Vowels 12 and 13, /ə/ versus //     90 pairs       [thethey.html]

The schwa has many spellings. The // diphthong is spelled <aCe>, <ai> and <ei> in villein, <é> in several French loan words, and occurs in the letter names A and K. The majority of the words in this list arise from homographs of words ending in <ate> which can function as noun/adjective or as verb with different pronunciations.

This is a contrast between a short vowel which is always unstressed and a diphthong. It is not in itself a problem for learners.

Interesting pairs include:

murmured mermaid
violet violate

The density figure is 0.9%. The set makes 57 semantic contrasts giving a loading of 63%.

a A 
advocate advocate
  advocates advocates
agglomerate agglomerate
  aggregate aggregate
aggregate aggregate
  aggregates aggregates
animate animate
appropriate appropriate
approximate approximate
articulate articulate
aspirate aspirate
  aspirates aspirates
associate associate
  associates associates
certificate certificate
  certificates certificates
confederate confederate
  confederates confederates
conglomerate conglomerate
  conglomerates conglomerates
cooper coupé
  coopers coupés
cos K's 
degenerate degenerate
  degenerates degenerates
delegate delegate
  delegates delegates
deliberate deliberate
desolate desolate
duplicate duplicate
  duplicates duplicates
elaborate elaborate
'em aim
estimate estimate
  estimates estimates
expatriate expatriate
  expatriates expatriates
graduate graduate
  graduates graduates
incarnate incarnate
incorporate incorporate
inebriate inebriate
  inebriates inebriates
initiate initiate
  initiates initiates
intimate intimate
  intimates intimates
kaffir café
  kaffirs cafés 
lama lamé
Lisa lycée
Madame Mesdames
Monsieur Messieurs 
moderate moderate
  moderates moderates
murmured mermaid 
parka parquet
patter pâté
  patters pâtés
pontificate pontificate
  pontificates pontificates
precipitate precipitate
predicate predicate
  predicates predicates
quadruplicate quadruplicate
  quadruplicates quadruplicates
regenerate regenerate
reincarnate reincarnate
reticulate reticulate
senoras senores
server survey
  servers surveys
subordinate subordinate
  subordinates subordinates
sunder sundae
  sunders sundaes 
sunder Sunday
  sunders Sundays  
syndicate syndicate
  syndicates syndicates
the they
triplicate triplicate
  triplicates triplicates
underestimate underestimate
  underestimates underestimates
villain villein
  villains villeins
violet violate 
  violets violates 

John Higgins, Shaftesbury, December 2009