Consonants /k/ versus /s/, 573 pairs     [codasoda.html]

The /k/ sound is spelled with <c>, <k> or <qu> pronounced /kw/ initially, and <ck> or <ke> medially or finally. Two exceptional spellings are <qu> in pique and <ch> in Reich, though many English speakers will use a fricative in the latter. The /s/ sound is normally spelled with <s> or <c> initially. Medially or finally there are many spellings, including <ce>, <sce>, <s> and <ss>. There are also oddities like inital <ps> in psalm. Notice who the homograph bass makes pairs with back and bake, and close with cloak and slows.

The /s/ sound also occurs in the letter name C. An interesting sidelight on this is brought out by the work of David Cargill, the missionary who worked out the orthography of Fijian in the 1830s. Using <k> for /k/ and <s> for /s/, he used <c> for /Ɵ/, for which his memory was subsequently blessed by Fijian schoolchildren learning to read and cursed by colonial administrators. There is a legend, plausible but unsupported by any documentary evidence, that he asked his printer for Greek thetas, and the printer told him he didn't have any but he did have leftover cases of letter C.

The contrast is between a velar stop and an alveolar fricative, both voiceless. It causes no problems in itself, although the inconsistent spelling of words with /s/ may give rise to errors.

Interesting pairs include:

calorie salary
candid sanded
column solemn
convocation conversation
correct caressed
cutler subtler
defrocked defrost
kidney Sidney
protector protester
quagga swagger

Taboo word pairs include: arc/arse, coon/soon, fuck/fuss and pick/piss.

The mean density value is 2.3%. The list makes 316 semantic distinctions, a loading of 55%.

ache ace 
actor aster
  actors asters
alack alas
Alnwick anise
arc arse  
ark arse
back bass
backed bast
bake base
  baked based
  baking basing
bake bass
baker baser
bark baas 
basic basis
beck Bess 
brake brace 
  braked braced 
  braking bracing 
buck bus 
  bucked bused
  bucking busing
buckle bustle
  buckled bustled
  buckles bustles
  buckling bustling
burked burst
caber sabre
  cabers sabres
cable sable
  cables sables
cache sash
  caches sashes
cachet sachet
  cachets sachets
cad sad
cage sage
  cages sages
cake case
  caked cased
  caking casing
cake sake
  cakes sakes
calk coarse
calk course
  calked coursed
  calking coursing
callow sallow
calm psalm
  calms psalms
calmest psalmist
calorie salary
  calories salaries
cam Sam		 
camber samba
  cambers sambas
came same
candid sanded
candle sandal
  candles sandals
candy sandy
cane sane
cane seine
  caned seined
  canes seines
  caning seining
canned sand
cans sans
cap sap
  capped sapped
  capping sapping
  caps saps
cash sash	   
  cashes sashes
cat sat
caught sort
caught sought
cause saws
cause sores
cave save
  caved saved
  caves saves
  caving saving
caw saw
  cawed sawed
  cawing sawing
  caws saws
caw soar
  caws soars
  cawed soared
caw sore
  caws sores
check chess
checked chest
chord sawed
chord sword
  chords swords
clack slack
  clacked slacked
  clacking slacking
  clacks slacks
clam slam
  clammed slammed
  clamming slamming
  clams slams
clang slang
  clanged slanged
  clanging slanging
  clangs slangs
clap slap
  clapped slapped
  clapping slapping
  claps slaps
clash slash
  clashed slashed
  clashes slashes
  clashing slashing
clave slave
claw slaw
clay slay
cleat sleet
  cleats sleets
cleave sleeve
  cleaved sleeved
  cleaves sleeves
clerk class 
  clerked classed 
  clerking classing 
clew slew
  clewed slewed
  clewing slewing
  clews slews
climb slime
cling sling
  clinging slinging
  clings slings
clink slink
  clinking slinking
  clinks slinks
clip slip
  clipped slipped
  clips slips
clipper slipper
  clippers slippers
clique sleek
  cliques sleeks
cloak close
clobber slobber
  clobbered slobbered
  clobbering slobbering
  clobbers slobbers
cloche slosh
  cloches sloshes
clog slog
  clogged slogged
  clogging slogging
  clogs slogs
close sloes
close slows	  
clot slot
  clots slots
  clotted slotted
  clotting slotting
clue slew
  clued slewed
  cluing slewing
  clues slews
clump slump
  clumped slumped
  clumping slumping
  clumps slumps
clung slung
clunk slunk
Co sew
Co so
Co sow
coal sole
  coaling soling
  coals soles
  coaled soled
coal soul
  coals souls
coaled sold
coax soaks
cob sob
  cobs sobs
cock cos
cock sock
  cocking socking
  cocks socks  
cocked cost
cocker soccer
cod sod
  codded sodded
  codding sodding
  cods sods
coda soda
  codas sodas
code sewed
code sowed
coil soil
  coiled soiled
  coiling soiling
  coils soils
coke soak
  coked soaked
  coking soaking
  cokes soaks
coked coast 
col Sol
cone sewn
column solemn
come some
come sum
  comes sums
  coming summing
comer summer
  comers summers
conic sonic
convocation conversation 
  convocations conversations 
coo Sioux
coo sou
  coos sous
coon soon
coop soup
  cooped souped
  coops soups
  cooping souping
cooper super
  coopers supers
cop sop
  copping sopping
  cops sops
  copped sopped
cope soap
  coped soaped
  copes soaps
  coping soaping
copier soppier
Copt sopped
copy soppy
copyist soppiest
cor saw
coral sorrel
  corals sorrels
cord sawed
cord sword
  cords swords
core saw
  cores saws
  cored sawed
core soar
  cores soars
  cored soared
coring soaring
cork coarse
cork course
  corked coursed
  corking coursing
corker coarser 
  corkers coursers
corn sawn
correct caressed 
corrie sorry
corse sauce
  corses sauces
corse source
  corses sources
cos sock
cot sot
cots sots
coughed soft
couple supple
course sauce
  courses sauces
  coursed sauced
  coursing saucing
course source
  courses sources
  coursed sourced
  coursing sourcing
courser caucer
  coursers saucers
court sort
  courted sorted
  courting sorting
  courts sorts
court sought
cow sow 
  cows sows
coward soured
cower sour
  cowering souring
  cowers sours
Cowes sows
coy soy
crack crass
creak crease
  creaked creased
  creaking creasing
crock cross
  crocked crossed
  crocking crossing
cub sub
  cubs subs
cuff sough
  cuffed soughed
  cuffing soughing
  cuffs soughs
cunning sunning
cup sup
  cups sups
  cupped supped
  cupping supping
Cupar super
cuppa supper
  cuppas suppers
cur sir
  curs sirs
curd surd
curly surly
  curlier surlier
  curliest surliest
curry Surrey
curse kirk
curt cert 
curtain certain 
curve serve
  curved served
  curves serves
  curving serving
cuss suss
  cusses susses
  cussing sussing
  cussed sussed
cutler subtler
cycle sisal
defrocked defrost
dejected digested
detect detest
  detectable detestable
  detected detested
  detecting detesting
  detects detests
dike dice
  diked diced
  diking dicing
disinfect disinfest
  disinfected disinfested
  disinfecting disinfesting
  disinfects disinfests
dock doss
  docked dossed
  docking dossing
docker dosser
  dockers dossers
Doric Doris
dost ducked
ducked dust
duct dust
  ducts dusts
duke deuce
eked east
elk else
fake face 
  faked faced
  faking facing
flock floss
  flocked flossed
  flocking flossing
fork force
  forked forced
  forking forcing
fuck fuss
  fucked fussed
  fucking fussing
gawk gorse
Greek grease
Greek Greece
hacked hast
hackle hassle
  hackles hassles
hawk hoarse
hawker hoarser
hick hiss
incest insect
incursion insertion
  incursions insertions
infect infest
  infected infested
  infecting infesting
  infects infests
inject ingest
  injected ingested
  injecting ingesting
  injects ingests
irk Erse
jockeys josses
K say
kail Sale
Kate sate
keel seal
  keels seals
  keeled sealed 
  keeling sealing
keeling ceiling 
kenned send
kens sends
Kent cent
Kent scent
Kent sent
kept Sept
kettle settle
  kettles settles
key C 
  keys C's
key see
  keys sees
  keying seeing  
keyboard seaboard
  keyboards seaboards
keyed cede 
keyed seed
khaki sake
kick kiss
  kicked kissed
  kicking kissing
kick sick
  kicks sicks
  kicking sicking
  kicked sicked
kidney Sidney
killer Scylla
  killers Scyllas
kilt silt
  kilts silts
kind signed
kine sign
kink sink
  kinking sinking
  kinks sinks
kiss sis
kissed cyst
kisses cissies 
kite cite 
  kites cites 
kitty city
  kitties cities 
lack lass
lackey lassie
  lackeys lasses
lake lace
larked last
leak lease
  leaked leased
  leaking leasing
leek lease
licked list
like lice
lock loss
locked lost
lucre looser
mac mass
make mace
marked mast
Mick Miss
Mickey missy
mickle missal
Mike mice
mock moss
muck muss
  mucked mussed
  mucking mussing
muckle muscle
murky mercy
neck ness
necked nest
nectar Nestor
package passage
  packages passages
park pass
  parked passed
  parking passing
peak peace
peak piece	   
  peaked pieced
  peaking piecing
peccary pessary
  peccaries pessaries
pecked pest
pelvic pelvis
perk purse
  perked pursed
  perking pursing
perky Percy
pick piss
  picked pissed
  picking pissing
pique peace
pique piece  
  piqued pieced
  piquing piecing
pluck plus
pocket posset
  pockets possets
poked post
protect protest
  protected protested
  protecting protesting
  protects protests
protector protester
  protectors protesters
puck pus
puke puce
Q sue
  Q's sues
qua sway
quagga swagger
  quaggas swaggers
quell swell
  quelled swelled
  quelling swelling
  quells swells
queue sue
  queuing suing
  queues sues	
  queued sued
queued pseud
quill swill
  quills swills
quiz swiz
rake race
  raked raced
  raking racing
Reich rice
rucked rust
sauce coarse 
sauce course
  sauces courses
seek cease
source coarse
source course
  sources courses
spake space
spark sparse
spike spice
  spiked spiced
  spiking spicing
spiky spicy
  spikier spicier
  spikiest spiciest
suck suss
  sucked sussed
  sucking sussing
tackle tassel
  tackled tasseled
  tackles tassels
Tech Tess
trek tress
tricked tryst
truck truss
tunic Tunis
Turk terse
unkind unsigned	 
victor vista
  victors vistas
waked waist
work worse
worked worst
wrecked rest
wricked wrist

John Higgins, Shaftesbury, April 2010
updated Chiang Mai, 2024