Consonants /z/ versus /r/, 59 pairs     [zoomroom.html]

The /z/ sound is spelled with <z>, <s> or <se>. The /r/ sound is spelled with <r> or <rr>. 10 pairs are accounted for by plurals of compound nouns which have an internal linking -r, such as hanger-on.

This is a contrast between a sibilant fricative and a retroflex continuant, both in the alveolar region of the mouth and both voiced. It can only occur initially or medially. It is not a problem, although the /r/ sound may be troublesome for some learners.

The mean density value is low at 0.3%. The list makes 40 semantic distinctions, a loading of 68%.

apposition apparition 
brothers-in-law brother-in-law 
buzzer borough
  buzzers boroughs 
causing coring
chuckers-out chucker-out 
daughters-in-law daughter-in-law 
fathers-in-law father-in-law 
fezzes ferries 
fuzzier furrier 
gauzy gory
  gauzier gorier
  gauziest goriest
hangers-on hanger-on 
hussar hurrah
  hussars hurrahs 
lookers-on looker-on 
mothers-in-law mother-in-law 
pausing poring
pausing pouring
runners-up runner-up 
scissors sirrahs
sisters-in-law sister-in-law 
tawses Tories 
whippers-in whipper-in 
Z read
Z red
  Z's reds
zany rainy 
  zanier rainier 
  zaniest rainiest 
zap rap 
  zapped rapped 
  zapping rapping 
  zaps raps 
zee re 
Zen Rennes 
Zen wren
zest rest 
zest wrest
zestful restful 
  zestfully restfully 
zinc rink 
zing ring 
zip rip 
  zipped ripped 
  zipping ripping 
  zips rips 
zone roan 
  zones roans 
zone Rhone
zoo roo
zoo rue 
  zoos rues 
zoom rheum 
  zoomed roomed 
  zooming rooming 
  zooms rooms 
zoos ruse

John Higgins, Shaftesbury, November 2010.