The /ɔ/ vowel is usually spelled <or>, <our>, and <oar>, but we also see <au> in laud, <aw> in raw and <ar> after <w> in war. The /ɪə/ diphthong is spelled <eer> or <ear> and unusually <ie> in tier and <ei> in weird. Note that the pair eyesore/icier which the computer pulled out is not a true minimal pair since, as so often the case, /ɪə/ in that word is two syllables rather than the diphthong.
This is a contrast between a long vowel and a diphthong. The starting positions are a long way apart there is no risk of confusion.
Interesting pairs include:
The density figure is 3.15%. The set makes 71 semantic contrasts giving a loading of 55.9%.
aura era auras eras awe ear awes ears bawd beard bawds beards boar beer boars beers boar bier boars biers board beard boarded bearded boarding bearding boards beards bore beer bores beers bore bier bores biers chaw cheer chawed cheered chaws cheers chore cheer chores cheers Claud cleared claw clear claws clears clause clears Dawley dearly daw dear daws dears door dear doors dears dory dearie dories dearies drawer drear eyesore icier for fear fore fear force fierce ford feared four fear fours fears foursome fearsome gaud geared gauze gears gnaw near gnawed neared gnaws nears gore gear goring gearing gored geared gores gears haw hear haws hears hoar hear indoor endear jaw jeer jawed jeered jaws jeers laud leered Laura lira lawn lien lawns liens law leer laws leers lor leer lore leer lord leered maw mere maws meres more mere Morley merely nor near oar ear oars ears or ear ore ear ores ears o'er ear orally eerily pause peers paw peer pawed peered paws peers paw pier paws piers pore peer poring peering pores peers pored peered raw rhea raw rear roar rear roared reared roaring rearing roars rears saw sear sawed seared saws sears saw seer saws seers shore shear shored sheared shores shears shoring shearing snore sneer snored sneered snores sneers snoring sneering sore sear sores sears sore seer sores seers spore spear spores spears storage steerage store steer stored steered stores steers storing steering tawse tears tor tear tors tears tor tier tors tiers war Wear war weir wars weirs ward weird warder weirder yore year
John Higgins, Shaftesbury, December 2009