Vowels 8 and 14, /ʊ/ versus /aɪ/    50 pairs      [bookbike.html]

The /ʊ/ vowel is usually spelled <oo>, <u>, and <oul> should.The /aɪ/ vowel is spelled <iCe> or <igh>, and turns up as <ei> in the loan word Reich. The computer picked out three more minmal pair sets arising from the contrast of /ʊə/ with the triphthong /aɪə/, namely bourse/bias, moor/mire and tour/tire. I have taken these out of the list since /ʊ/ and /ʊə/ are normally regarded as distinct phonemes.

This is a contrast between a short vowel and a diphthong, fairly well separated in the mouth. There is very little likelihood of confusion.

Interesting pairs include:

wooden widen
woolly wily

The density figure is 2.55%. The set makes 22 semantic contrasts giving a loading of 44%.

book bike 
  booked biked 
  booking biking 
  books bikes 
bull bile 
foot fight 
  footing fighting 
  foots fights 
footer fighter 
  footers fighters 
full file 
good guide
  goods guides
hood hide 
  hooding hiding 
  hoods hides 
hook hike 
  hooked hiked 
  hooking hiking 
  hooks hikes 
hookah hiker
  hookahs hikers 
hooker hiker 
  hookers hikers
look like 
  looked liked 
  looking liking 
  looks likes 
pud pied 
pull pile 
  pulled piled 
  pulling piling 
  pulls piles 
pull-up pile-up 
  pull-ups pile-ups 
rook Reich 
  rooks Reichs 
should shied 
soot cite 
  sooted cited 
  sooting citing 
  soots cites 
took tike 
wood wide 
wooden widen 
wool while 
  wools whiles 
woolly wily 
  woolier wilier 
  wooliest wiliest 

John Higgins, Shaftesbury, December 2009
updated Chiang Mai, 2024