Vowels 17 and 19, /aʊ/ versus /eə/    33 pairs      [bowbare.html]

The /aʊ/ diphthong is spelled <ow> or <ou>. The /eə/ diphthong is spelled <air> or <are>.

This is a contrast between two diphthongs with differences in starting position, direction of movement and lip-rounding. It is not a problem for any learner.

Interesting pairs include:

foully fairly

The density figure is 3.43%. The set makes 19 semantic contrasts giving a loading of 57.6%.

blouse blares 
bough bare
  boughs bares 
bough bear
  boughs bears
bow bare
  bows bares
  bowed bared 
bow bear
  bows bears      
chow chair
  chows chairs 
cow care
  cowed cared 
  cows cares
dhow dare
  dhows dares 
foully fairly 
house hairs 
loud laird 
Maori Mary
mow mare
  mows mares 
noun Nairn 
prow prayer
  prows prayers 
scow scare
  scows scares 
spouse spares 
wow ware
  wows wares 
wow wear
  wows wears  

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