Consonants /k/ versus /Ɵ/, 121 pairs     [cudthud.html]

The /k/ sound is spelled with <c> or <k> initially, and usually <ck> or <ke> medially or finally though we also see <c> in sic and <cc> in Beccles. The /Ɵ/ sound is usually spelled with <th>.

When /Ɵ/ occurs finally in a noun, there is some instability as to whether the plural is made with /s/ or /z/. The words birth, cloth, earth, and all the ordinal numbers made with -th would usually have the /s/ inflection. The word oath would usually have a /z/ plural. Other words such as path and wreath might have either.

The contrast is between a velar stop and a dental fricative, both voiceless. It causes no problems.

The only 3-syllable pair in the list is curable/thurible. It is striking how many of the words with /Ɵ/ in the list are rather obscure ecclesiastical or literary words such as bethels or thane.

The mean density value is 1.1%. The list makes 66 semantic distinctions, a loading of 55%.

accurst athirst
bark bath
  barked bathed
  barking bathing
  barks baths
beak Beith
Beccles bethels
burke berth
  burked berthed
  burkes births
  burking berthing
cane thane
  canes thanes
catch thatch
  catches thatches
  catching thatching
catcher thatcher
  catchers thatchers
caught thought
cause thaws
caw thaw
  cawed thawed
  cawing thawing
  caws thaws
clock cloth
  clocks cloths
coal thole
  coals tholes
come thumb
  comes thumbs
  coming thumbing
corn thorn
  corns thorns
corny thorny
  cornier thornier
  corniest thorniest
court thought
  courts thoughts
crash thrash
  crashed thrashed
  crashes thrashes
  crashing thrashing
crawl thrall
  crawls thralls
crew threw
crone throne
  crones thrones
crone thrown
crow throe
  crows throes
crow throw  
  crowing throwing
  crows throws
crumb thrum
  crumbs thrums
crush thrush
  crushes thrushes
crust thrust
  crusting thrusting
  crusts thrusts
cud thud
curable thurible
curd third
  curds thirds
cursed thirst
deck death
  decks deaths
dirk dearth
  dirks dearths
duck doth
fake faith
  fakes faiths
forecourt forethought
fork forth
  forks fourths
frock froth
  frocks froths
hack hath
hark hearth
  harks hearths
irk earth
  irked earthed
  irking earthing
  irks earths
kick kith
king thing
  kings things
kink think
  kinking thinking
  kinks thinks
lakh lath
leaky Lethe
Max maths
Mick myth
mix myths
mock moth
  mocks moths
murk mirth
oak oath
  oaks oaths
park path
  parks paths
perk Perth
Q's thews
queues thews
quack thwack
  quacked thwacked
  quacking thwacking
  quacks thwacks
quart thwart
  quarts thwarts
rake wraith
  rakes wraiths
rock wrath
sec saith
teak teeth
whelk wealth
wick withe
  wicks withes
work worth
wreak wreath

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