The spelling of /b/ is always <b> or <bb>. The /n/ sound is <n>, <nn>, <gn> as in gnash and gnat or <kn> as in knell and know. Notice how the homograph bow enters pairs with know and now, while the partial homograph Job pairs with Joan when capitalised and with John when not.
The contrast is between a plosive and a nasal continuant, both voiced but fairly well separated in the mouth. Confusions are not likely.
Taboo word pairs are bigger/nigger, boobs/boons and bum/numb.
Interesting pairs include:
The mean density value is 1.7%. The list makes 186 semantic distinctions, a loading of 58%.
able anal Annie abbey B knee babe bane babes banes Babs banns Babs bans back knack backs knacks backer knacker backers knackers bag nag bagged nagged bagging nagging bags nags bail nail bailed nailed bailing nailing bails nails bairn Nairn baker nacre bale nail baled nailed baling nailing bals nails ban Nan barb barn barbs barns Barbara Narborough bare ne'er bark nark barked narked barking narking barks narks barrow narrow barrows narrows bash gnash bashes gnashes bashing gnashing bashed gnashed bat gnat bats gnats batter natter battered nattered battering nattering batters natters batty natty bawd gnawed bay nay bay née bay neigh bayed neighed baying neighing bays neighs be knee beadle needle beadles needles beady needy bear ne'er beard neared beau know beaux knows beau no beck neck becks necks bed Ned bee knee bees knees beep neap beeps neaps beer near beers nears Beith 'neath bell knell bells knells bell Nell belle knell belles knells belle Nell belly Nelly belt knelt Bess ness best nest bested nested besting nesting bests nests bet net bets nets betted netted betting netting bevel Neville bey nay bey née bey neigh beys neighs bib bin bibs bins bib nib bibs nibs bickers knickers bier near biers nears biff niff biffs niffs bigger nigger bight knight bights knights bight night bights nights bine nine bines nines bit knit bits knits bitch niche bitches niches bite knight bites knights biting knighting bite night bites nights bitter knitter bitters knitters blabbed bland boa Noah boar gnaw boars gnaws boar nor board gnawed boat note boated noted boating noting boats notes bob Bonn bob knob bobs knobs bobbed bond Bobby bonny bode node bodes nodes bodied nodded bole knoll boles knolls bone known boo gnu boos gnus boob boon boobs boons book nook books nooks boon noon boost noosed booze gnus bore gnaw bores gnaws bored gnawed bore nor botch notch botched notched botches notches botching notching bough now bought naught bout knout bouts knouts bow know bowing knowing bows knows bow no bow now box knocks boys noise bribe brine buckle knuckle buckled knuckled buckles knuckles buckling knuckling budged nudged budges nudges budging nudging bum numb bummed numbed bumming numbing bums numbs bun none bun nun buns nuns bursary nursery bursaries nurseries burst nursed but nut butt nut butts nuts buy nigh buyer nigher by nigh bye nigh cab can cabs cans cabal canal cabals canals cabby canny cob con cobs cons Corby corny crabbed crannied dab Dan daub dawn daubed dawned daubing dawning daubs dawns deb den debs dens Debbie Denny dibber dinner dibbers dinners dub done dub dun dubbed dunned dubbing dunning dubs duns ebb N ebbs N's ebbed end fab fan Feb fen fib Finn fibs Finns fibre finer fobbed fond furbish furnish furbished furnished furbishing furnishing glebe glean glebes gleans gob gone grabbed grand grebe green grebes greens herb Herne hob Hon hub Hun hubs Huns hubby honey hubbies honeys jab Jan jib gin jibbed ginned jibbing ginning jibs gins jib jinn jibs jinns Job Joan job John Kobe coney liable Lionel Lib Lynn lobe loan lobed loaned lobes loans mobster monster mobsters monsters nub none nub nun nubs nuns ob on probe prone pub pun pubs puns pubic Punic rebound renowned rob Ron robe roan robes roans rub run rubbing running rubs runs rubber runner rubbers runners rubble runnel rub-up run-up sabre saner scab scan scabs scans stab Stan stabbed stand stub stun stubbed stunned stubbing stunning stubs stuns sub son subs sons sub sun subbed sunned subbing sunning subs suns swab swan swabbed swanned swabbing swanning swabs swans tab tan tabs tans Toby Tony tub ton tubs tons tub tun tubs tuns tuba tuna tubas tunas tubby tunny tube tune tubes tunes tubing tuning tuber tuner tubers tuners vibes vines web wen webs wens web when webbed wend Whitby Witney yob yon
John Higgins, Shaftesbury, January 2010.