Consonants /t/ versus /l/, 738 pairs     [dietdial.html]

The spelling of /t/ is <t> or <tt> and we also see silent letter combinations such as <bt> in debt. The /l/ sound is <l> or <ll>. Inflected forms with -s have been included even where not strictly minimal. See the discussion under "Problems" on the main page. This does in once case give rise to an anomaly when forts enters pairs with falls and false. Overall the /l/ sound is problematic since its greater length makes many minimal contrasts apparently differ in syllable count. This reaches an extreme when the /l/ is fully syllabic. The computer identified several pairs in which /t/ was contrasted with syllabic /l/, e.g. dismissed/dismissal and regent/regional. I have left these in the list though with misgivings.

Notice how the two pronunciations of ate make pairs with ail and the letter name L, the homograph tear makes pairs with lair and leer and the homograph palling makes pairs with patting and porting.

The contrast is between a voiceless plosive and a voiced lateral continuant, fairly close together in the mouth. It is not a problem for learners.

Taboo word pair include shat/shall, shitting/shilling and tits/tills.

Interesting pairs include:

casting castling
cetaceous salacious
chateau shallow
darting darling
gâteaux gallows
gazette gazelle
Haiti highly
haughtier haulier
literate literal
nesting nestling
squatter squalor
starting starling
temperate temporal
tibia Libya
tottery lottery

The mean density value is 2.7%. The list makes 410 semantic distinctions, a loading of 56%.

animate animal 
ate ail 
ate L
at Al 
atom alum 
atone alone
attack alack
attics Alex 
aught all 
bait bail 
  baiting bailing
  baits bails
bait bale 
  baiting baling
  baits bales
battered ballad 
batty bally
Bertie burly
bet bell
  bets bells
  betting belling
bet belle
  bets belles  
betide belied
betted bellied 
Betty belly
bight bile
bite bile
boat bole
boat bowl
  boats bowls
boater bowler
  boaters bowlers
boot buhl
bought ball 
bought bawl
brought brawl 
Brit brill
busting bustling
caitiff caliph
  caitiffs caliphs
caught call
cart Carl 
carat carol 
  carats carols
carrot carol
  carrots carols
casting castling
certainty certainly    
cetaceous salacious	
  chateaux shallows
chit chill 
  chits chills
cottar choler 
  cottars cholers 
city silly
  cities sillies
coat coal 
  coating coaling 
  coats coals
cot col
  cots cols
cottage college
  cottages colleges 
cutter colour 
  cutters colours 
conceit conceal 
  conceits conceals
coot cool
  coots cools
corporate corporal 
court call
  courting calling 
  courts calls
cut cull 
  cutting culling 
  cuts culls
curt curl 
date dale 
  dates dales
darting darling 
debt dell
  debts dells
detectable delectable 
diet dial 
  dieting dialling 
  diets dials
dismissed dismissal 
dispersed dispersal 
dote dole 
  doting doling  
  dotes doles
dot doll 
  dotting dolling 
  dots dolls
dotty dolly 
duty duly 
eating Ealing 
eat eel
eight ail
electorate electoral 
fate fail 
  fates fails
fête fail
  fêting failing
  fêtes fails
fort fall 
  forts falls 
forts false
feat feel
  feats feels
feet feel
fight file
  fighting filing
  fights files
fit fill 
  fitting filling 
  fittings fillings 
foot full
footer fuller
  footers fullers
freight frail 
freighter frailer 
gâteaux gallows
gait Gael 	 
gait gale
gate Gael
  gates Gaels
gate gale  
  gates gales
garter gala
  garters galas 
GATT gal
ghat Gaul 
ghat gall
gazette gazelle 
jet gel 
  jets gels
  jetting gelling 
girt girl 
goat goal 
  goats goals
graduate gradual 
grate grail 
  grates grails
great grail  
grit grill 
  gritting grilling
gut gull 
  gutting gulling 
Haiti highly
hat Hal
hate hail
  hates hails
  hating hailing
hate hale
haughtier haulier
heat heal
  heats heals
  heating healing
heat heel
  heats heels
  heating heeling
heater healer
  heaters healers
hector heckler 
  hectors hecklers 
hit hill
  hits hills
hotter holler
hoot who'll
hooter hula
  hooters hulas
hut hull 
  huts hulls
hurt hurl
  hurting hurling
  hurts hurls
it ill
jetted jellied
jetty jelly
  jetties jellies
jotted jollied 
jute jewel
jute joule 
Kate kail
kit kill 
  kitting killing
  kits kills
knit nil
light lisle
literate literal 
lot loll 
  lots lolls
mate mail 
  mating mailing 
  mates mails
mart marl 
meat meal 
  meats meals
meaty mealie 
  meatier mealier 
  meatiest  mealiest 
meet meal
  meets meals
might mile
mitre miler 
  mitres milers 
mitt mill 
  mitts mills
mite mile
  mites miles
moat mole
motor molar 
  motors molars 
mute mule 
mutt mull 
mutter mullah
  mutters mullahs 
net nell 
nesting nestling
nit nil 
note knoll 
  notes knolls
nut null 
  nuts nulls
numerate numeral 
ought all
ought awl
out owl
overwrought overall 
overtook overlook 
overstepped overslept 
pat pal
  pats pals
  patting palling
patted pallid 
pate pail
  pates pails 
pate pale
  pates pales
port pall
  ports palls
  porting palling 
port Paul
patter pallor 
party parley 
  parties parleys 
parted parleyed 
pastorate pastoral 
patty pally
pert pearl 
peter peeler
  peters peelers 
pit pill 
  pits pills
  pitting pilling
pot poll 
pottered pollard 
potty Polly 
potty poly
  potties polys 
property properly 
put pull 
  puts pulse 
quit quill 
  quits quills
Quito kilo
quoit coil 
  quoits coils
rate rail 
  rates rails
  rating railing 
  ratings railings 
ratted rallied 
ratty rally 
refit refill 
  refitting refilling
regent regional
rehearsed rehearsal 
repeat repeal 
repeating repealing 
resting wrestling
reversed reversal 
right rile
  rights riles
  righting riling
rite rile
  rites riles
rota roller  
  rotas rollers 
rotor roller 
  rotors rollers
root rule
  rooting ruling
  roots rules
rote rôle 
rote roll
rusting rustling
safety safely 
sate sail
  sating sailing 
  sates sails
sate sale 
  sates sales
skate scale 
  skating scaling 
  skates scales
scoot school 
  scooting schooling 
  scoots schools
scout scowl
  scouting scowling
  scouts scowls
scut scull 	  
  scuts sculls
  scutting sculling
scut skull
  scuts skulls
seat seal
  seats seals
  seating sealing
seating ceiling 
set cell 	
  sets cells
set sell
  setting selling
  sets sells  
setter cellar 
  setters cellars 
secretariat secretarial 
shat shall 
sheet she'll 
shitting shilling 
Shirley shirty
short shawl 
  shorts shawls
sit sill 
  sits sills
skit skill 
  skits skills
skirt skirl 
  skirts skirls
smite smile 
  smiting smiling 
  smites smiles
spit spill 
  spitting spilling 
squatted squalid 
squatter squalor 
stab slab 
  stabs slabs 
stack slack 
  stacked slacked 
  stacking slacking 
  stacks slacks 
stag slag 
  stags slags
stain slain 
stake slake 
  staked slaked 
  stakes slakes 
  staking slaking 
stash slash 
  stashed slashed 
  stashes slashes 
  stashing slashing 
state slate
  stated slated 
  states slates 
  stating slating
state stale 
  stating staling 
  states stales
stance slants
starting starling
starve Slav 
  starves Slavs
stave slave 
  staved slaved 
  staves slaves 
  staving slaving 
stay slay 
  staying slaying 
  stays slays
stay sleigh
  stays sleighs
  staying sleighing
  stayed sleighed
stayer slayer 
  stayers slayers 
stead sled 
staid sleighed 
stepped slept 
Steve sleeve
stick slick 
  sticks slicks
sticker slicker 
  stickers slickers 
sting sling 
  stinging slinging 
  stings slings 
stinger slinger 
  stingers slingers 
stink slink
  stinks slinks
  stinking slinking
  stunk slunk 
stir slur 
  stirred slurred 
  stirring slurring 
  stirs slurs 
stoat stole
stow sloe 
  stows sloes 
stow slow 
  stows slows 
  stowing slowing
  stowed slowed
stop slop 
  stopped slopped 
  stopping slopping 
  stops slops 
stuff slough 
  stuffed sloughed 
  stuffing sloughing 
  stuffs sloughs 
stung slung 
stump slump 
  stumped slumped 
  stumping slumping 
  stumps slumps 
sty sly 
stymie slimy 
sweat swell
  sweating swelling
  sweats swells
T lea
  T's leas
T lee
ta la 
tab lab
  tabs labs
table label 
  tabled labelled 
  tables labels 
  tabling labelling
tabor labour 
  tabors labours 
taste laced 
tack lack 
  tacked lacked 
  tacks lacks  
  tacking lacking 
tacky lackey 
tactic lactic 
tag lag 
  tagged lagged 
  tagging lagging 
  tags lags 
take lake 
  takes lakes 
tame lame
  tamed lamed 
  tames lames 
  taming laming 
  tamely lamely 
  tameness lameness 
  tamer lamer 
  tamest lamest 
tamp lamp 
  tamps lamps 
tanned land 
tank lank 
tap lap 
  tapped lapped 
  tapping lapping 
  taps laps 
tarred lard 
tarn larn 
  tarns larns
tarry Larry 
tare lair 
  tares lairs 
tare layer
  tares layers  
tat lat   
Tate late
tatter latter 
torn lawn 
tawse laws 
teach leach 
  teaches leaches 
  teaching leaching 
teach leech
  teaches leeches  
tern learn 
  terns learns 
taught tall 
taut tall 
  tauter taller 
  tautest tallest
tatted tallied 
tatty tally 
tea lea
  teas leas
tea lee
tear lair
  tears lairs
tear layer
  tears layers  
tear leer 
  tears leers 
teat teal 
Ted lead
Teds leads
tee lea
  tees leas
tee lee  
temperate temporal
tether leather 
tethers leathers 
teg leg 
  tegs legs 
ten Len 
tend lend 
  tending lending 
  tends lends 
tender lender 
  tenders lenders 
tens lens 
tent lent 
Tess less
test lest 
Thai lie
  Thais lies
Thame lame
tibia Libya 
tick lick
  ticked licked 
  ticking licking 
  ticks licks 
ticker liquor 
  tickers liquors 
tie lie 
  ties lies 
  tying lying 
tighten lighten 
  tightened lightened 
  tightening lightening 
  tightens lightens 
tight light
  tighter lighter 
  tightest lightest 
  tightly lightly 
  tightness lightness
  tights lights 
tight tile
  tights tiles
tike like 
tikes likes 
lied Lille 
tilt lilt 
  tilted lilted 
  tilting lilting 
  tilts lilts 
timber limber 
  timbered limbered 
  timbers limbers 
  timbering limbering
thyme lime 
time lime
  times limes
  timed limed
  timing liming
tine line
  tined lined 
  tines lines 
tint lint 
tip lip 
  tipped lipped 
  tips lips 
  tipping lipping
tire liar 
tires liars 
tittle little 
tizzy Lizzy 
toe lo
toe low
  toes lows 
  toeing lowing
toadied loaded 
tome loam 
tone loan 
  toned loaned 
  toning loaning 
  tones loans 
tone lone
toad lode 
  toads lodes 
toad lowed  
tog log 
  togged logged 
  togging logging 
  togs logs 
to lieu 
to loo
too lieu
too loo
tongs longs 
took look 
tomb loom 
  tombs looms 
toot loot 
  tooted looted 
  toots loots
  tooting looting
top lop 
  tops lops
  topped lopped 
  topping lopping 
tope lope 
  toped loped 
  topes lopes 
  toping loping 
tor law
  tors laws
tor lor 
tor lore
tore law
tore lor
tore lore
tossed lost 
tot lot 
  tots lots 
tottery lottery 
tow lo	   
tow low
  tows lows
  towing lowing
  towed lowed
tower lour 
  towered loured 
  towering louring 
  towers lours 
tout lout 
  touts louts 
tuck luck 
tough luff 
  toughs luffs 
tuft luffed 
tug lug 
  tugged lugged 
  tugging lugging 
  tugs lugs 
tut lull 
  tutting lulling 
tummy lumme 
tongue lung
  tongues lungs 
tour lure 
  toured lured 
  tours lures 
  touring luring 
tuck luck
tucks luxe 
two lieu
two loo
  twos loos
tit till 
  tits tills
titter tiller 
  titters tillers 
tote toll 
  tots tolls
  toting tolling 
toot tool 
  tooting tooling 
  toots tools
trait trail 
  traits trails
traitor trailer 
  traitors trailers 
Turk lurk
  Turks lurks
turn learn
  turned learned 
  turning learning 
  turns learns
turner learner 
  turners learners 
Tyne line
uncertainty uncertainly 
unwitting unwilling 
  unwittingly unwillingly 
vote vole 
  votes voles
wafting waffling 
wait wail
  waits wails
  waiting wailing  
wait whale
  waits whales    
waits Wales  
waiter whaler
  waiters whalers
wart wall 
  warts walls
waltz warts
weight wail
  weights wails
  weighting wailing
weight whale
  weights whales  
weights Wales  
wet well
  wets wells
wheat weal	  
wheat wheel
wetting welling
wert whirl
whit will	 
white while
whiting whiling
white wile
  whites wiles
wit will
  wits wills
Wight while
witty Willie 
wittingly willingly	
writ rill 
write rile
  writes riles
  writing riling
wrote rôle
wrote roll
yet yell 

John Higgins, Shaftesbury, February 2010.