Vowels 11 and 13, /3/ versus //     214 pairs       [erredaid.html]

The /3/ vowel is spelled with <er>, <ir>, <ear>, <ur>, <our> in journey and <or> in worst. The // vowel is spelled <aCe>, <ai> or <ay>, and is seen in the letter names A and K.

This is a contrast between a long vowel and a diphthong. The starting positions are fairly close but it does not seem to be a problem for learners.

The nature/nurture pair features in much current scientific debate on genetics, while the words surf and safe turn up in various slogans about guarding against internet porn. Other interesting pairs include:

bursar baser
certain Satan
earthiest atheist
fervour favour
merger major
purple papal
surfaced safest

The density figure is 6.94%. The set makes 112 semantic contrasts giving a loading of 52.3%.

Bert bait
bird bayed 
blurred blade 
blurs blaze 
burble babel 
  burbles babels 
burke bake 
  burked baked 
  burkes bakes 
  burking baking 
burly Bailey 
burn bane
burr bay
  burrs bays
burr bey
  burrs beys 
bursar baser 
burst based 
  bursting basting 
  bursts bastes 
cert sate
  certs sates
certain Satan 
churn chain 
  churned chained 
  churning chaining 
  churns chains 
curl kail
curs K's 
curse case 
  cursed cased 
  curses cases 
  cursing casing 
curt Kate 
curve cave 
  curved caved 
  curves caves 
  curving caving 
derv Dave 
dirtied dated 
double-first double-faced 
earl ail 
  earls ails 
earthiest atheist 
err A
  errs A's 
erred aid 
Erse ace
fern fain 
fern feign
  ferns feigns 
fervour favour 
firm fame 
  firmed famed 
firs phase 
first faced 
furl fail 
  furled failed 
  furling failing 
  furls fails 
germs James 
girl Gael 
  girls Gaels 
girl gale
  girls gales  
girt gait 
hers haze 
hertz hates 
hurl hail 
  hurled hailed 
  hurling hailing 
  hurls hails 
hurt hate 
  hurting hating 
  hurts hates
hurtful hateful 
inert innate
irk ache 
  irked ached 
  irking aching 
  irks aches 
jerk Jake 
jerks jakes 
journey Janie 
kirk cake 
  kirks cakes 
learn lain 
learn lane
  learns lanes 
lurk lake 
  lurks lakes 
mercies maces 
merger major
  mergers majors 
murk make 
nerve knave 
  nerves knaves 
nervy navy 
nurture nature 
  nurtures natures 
pearl pail 
  pearls pails 
pearl pale  
  pearled paled 
  pearling paling 
  pearls pales
pert pate 
purge page 
  purged paged 
  purges pages 
  purging paging 
purple papal 
purposes papacies 
purr pay
  purred paid 
  purrs pays 
purse pace 
  pursed paced 
  purses paces 
  pursing pacing 
quirk quake 
  quirks quakes 
return retain 
  returned retained 
  returning retaining 
  returns retains 
serf safe 
  serfs safes 
serge sage 
serve save 
  served saved 
  serves saves 
  serving saving 
servings savings 
server saver 
  servers savers 
shirk shake 
  shirking shaking 
  shirks shakes 
shirker shaker 
  shirkers shakers 
skirl scale 
  skirls scales 
skirt skate 
  skirted skated 
  skirting skating 
  skirts skates 
slur slay
  slurs slays 
slur sleigh  
  slurred sleighed 
  slurs sleighs
spirt spate 
  spirts spates 
spur spay
  spurred spayed
  spurs spays 
spurn Spain 
spurred spade 
stern stain 
  sterns stains 
Stirling staling 
stir stay
  stirred stayed
  stirs stays 	
stirred staid  
surfaced safest    
surge sage
  surges sages 
term tame 
  termed tamed 
  terming taming 
  terms tames 
timeserving timesaving 
Turk take
  Turks takes
turps tapes 
ugh A 
unfurling unfailing 
urge age
  urged aged 
  urges ages 
  urging ageing 
urgency agency 
urgent agent 
were way  
were weigh
wert wait 
whirl wail 
  whirled wailed 
  whirling wailing 
  whirls wails
whirls Wales
whirr way
  whirrs ways 
whirr weigh
  whirrs weighs  
whirred wade 
word wade
  worded waded 
  wording wading 
  words wades
word weighed
work wake 
  worked waked 
  working waking 
  works wakes 
worst waist 
  worsts waists
worst waste
  worsted wasted 
  worsting wasting 
  worsts wastes 
years yeas 

John Higgins, Shaftesbury, December 2009