Vowels 7 and 20, /ɔ/ versus /ʊə/    40 pairs      [pawpoor.html]

The /ɔ/ vowel is spelled <or>, <oor>, <oar>, <au> and <aw>. The /ʊə/ diphthong is spelled <oor>, <our>, <ure>, <ewe> in crewel and <ue> in cruel. The contrast saw/sewer would not be minimal if one treats sewer as a two-syllable word. There is a difference of stress in the pair inshore/insure. For many speakers the word lure contains a palatal glide which would make in non-minimal in its various contrasts.

Although this is a contrast between a long vowel and a diphthong, the starting positions are fairly close and confusions can easily occur. Some RP speakers, especially speakers of an old-fashioned variety, conflate these phonemes, using /ɔ/ throughout.

Interesting pairs include:

crawler crueller
hoary houri

The density figure is 3.23%. The set makes 33 semantic contrasts giving a high loading of 82.3%.

ashore assure
boar boor
  boars boors  
bore boor
  bores boors 
crawl crewel
  crawls crewels   
crawl cruel
crawler crueller
Crawley cruelly
Dawley dourly
daw dour
door dour
gaud gourd
gored gourd
hoary houri
inshore insure
laud lured
law lure
  laws lures
lor lure
lord lured
Maud moored
maw moor
  maws moors 
more moor 	  
paw poor
pore poor  	 
pour poor
saw sewer
shore sure
sore sewer
spore spoor 
  spores spoors 
tor tour
  tors tours
tor Tours
tore tour	
tore Tours
yore you're 

John Higgins, Shaftesbury, July 2014