Vowels 3 and 18, /e/ versus /ɪə/    33 pairs      [bedbeard.html]

The /e/ vowel is here spelled <e>, <ea> in stead, <u> in bury and <ai> in said. The diphthong /ɪə/ is spelled <ear>, <ier> or <eer>, and <er> in era and peri.

This is a contrast bewteen a short front vowel and a front centering diphthong. It is not a specific problem for any known group of learners, though confusions may occur, especially before /r/ as in error/era.

The density value is low at 0.4%. The pairs make 26 semantic contrasts, giving a high loading of 79%.

bed beard 
  bedded bearded 
  bedding bearding 
  beds beards 
berry beery
bury beery
cherry cheery 
Delhi dearly
Des dears
error era
  errors eras 
fed feared
fez fears 
herring hearing 
  herrings hearings 
lead leered
Len lien
lens liens
Les leers
Ned neared
Nelly nearly
perry peri 
pest pierced
read reared
res rears 
said seared
  says sears
shed sheared 
sped speared 
stead steered
wed weird
wherry weary 
  wherries wearies 

John Higgins, Shaftesbury, January 2011
updated Chiang Mai, 2024