Consonants // versus /r/, 17 pairs     [thyrye.html]

The // sound is spelled with <th> or <the>. The /r/ sound is spelled with <r> or <rr>. Notice how the homograph row makes pairs with though and thou.

This is a contrast between a dental fricative and a continuant which has several allophones. They are both voiced and fairly close together in the mouth, but the contrast does not cause problems.

The contrast only occurs initially or medially, and , since /r/ is a common sound while / is rare, the mean density value is low at 0.2%. The list makes 16 semantic distinctions, a loading of 94%.

tether terror 
  tethers terrors 
that rat 
thee re 
their rare 
then Rennes 
then wren
there rare
they Ray 
thine Rhine 
though roe 
though row
those rose 
thou row 
thy rye 
thy wry
Worthing whirring

John Higgins, Shaftesbury, November 2010.