Vowels 1 and 8, /i/ and /ʊ/    77 pairs    [peatput.html]

Although both sounds are relatively close vowels, they differ in both tongue angle and length, so are unlikely to cause any confusion. The /ʊ/ vowel is relatively rare, ranking 17 out of the 20 vowel phonemes of English, which largely accounts for the relative shortness of this list.

The /i/ vowel appears in its common <ee> and <ea> spellings, along with <ie> in piece, <e> in besom and <iCe> in mystique. The /ʊ vowel is either <u> or <oo>, and is <oul> only in the modal verbs should, would and could.

Interesting pairs include:

besom bosom
heeded hooded
mystique mistook

The density figure is 1.9%. The number of semantic contrasts among the 77 pairs is 38, giving an unusually low semantic loading of 50%.

beach butch
beak book
  beaks books
beech butch
besom bosom
  besoms bosoms
chic shook
creak crook 
  creaked crooked
  creaking crooking
  creaks crooks
creek crook
  creeks crooks
feat foot
  feats foots
feel full
  feeler fuller
  feelers fullers
feet foot
forefeet forefoot
heed hood
  heeded hooded
  heeding hooding
  heeds hoods
keyed could
leak look
  leaked looked
  leaking looking
  leaks looks
leek look
  leeks looks
mystique mistook 
peace puss
peach putsch
  peaches putsches
peal pull
  pealed pulled
  pealing pulling
  peals pulls
peat put
peed pud
peel pull
  peeled pulled
  peeling pulling
  peels pulls
Pete put
piece puss
  pieces pussies
reek rook
  reeked rooked
  reeking rooking
  reeks rooks
seat soot
  seated sooted
  seating sooting
  seats soots
splayfeet splayfoot
steed stood
steep stoep
  steeps stoeps
teak took
tweed 'twould
weal wool
  weals wools
weed wood
  weeds woods
  weeded wooded
  weedy woody
  weedier woodier
  weediest woodiest
weed would
wheel wool
  wheels wools
wreak rook
  wreaked rooked
  wreaking rooking
  wreaks rooks

Geographical data: Most visitors apart from those from English-speaking countries were from Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Germany, Philippines, Malaysia, Bolivia, Jordan, RO Korea, China, Indonesia, Peru, Vietnam, Poland, Honduras. Average of 31 visitors a month.

John Higgins, Shaftesbury, January 2011.