Vowels 17 and 18, // versus /ɪə/    41 pairs      [vowveer.html]

The // diphthong is spelled <ow> or <ou>. The /ɪə/ diphthong is spelled <ear>, <eer> or <ier>, and <eir> in weir.

This is a contrast between two diphthongs with different starting positions, direction of movement and lip-rounding. It is not a problem for any learner.

Interesting pairs include:

carouse careers

The density figure is 1.92%. The set makes 29 semantic contrasts giving a loading of 70.7%.

arouse arrears
bough beer
  boughs beers 
bough bier
  boughs biers
bow beer
  bows beers
bow bier
  bows biers      
bowed beard 
carouse careers 
chow cheer
  chows cheers 
cloud cleared 
dhow dear
  dhows dears 
dhow deer  
endow endear
  endowed endeared 
  endows endears 
endowment endearment 
  endowments endearments 
how hear
how here
house hears 
loud leered 
mow mere
  mows meres 
rehouse rehears 
rouse rears 
row rhea 	
  rows rheas
row rear
  rowed reared 
  rows rears
spouse spears 
vow veer
  vowed veered 
  vows veers 
wow weir
  wows weirs 

John Higgins, Shaftesbury, December 2009