Vowels 2 and 8, /ɪ/ versus /ʊ/    64 pairs     [fitfoot.htm]

Vowel /ɪ/ is spelled with <i> except for <ei> in forfeit. Vowel /ʊ/ is either <u> or <oo> except for <o> in wolf and <ou> in patchouli.

Both vowels are short and fairly central in the mouth but differ in lip-rounding. There is a slight potential for confusion, but they do not seem to constitute a specific problem for any one nationality, perhaps because most foreign learners will in any case tend to make vowel 8 into a more of a back-rounded vowel than native speakers do.

The mean density values is 0.3%, though this is distorted since vowel 2 is very common while vowel 8 is rare. The list makes 38 semantic contrasts giving a loading of 56%.

Bill bull
bill bull
  bills bulls
billet bullet
  billets bullets
billies bullies
Billy bully
brick brook
  bricked brooked
  bricking brooking
  bricks brooks
city sooty
crick crook 
  cricked crooked
  cricking crooking
  cricks crooks
fill full
filly fully
fit foot
  fits foots
  fitted footed
  fitting footing
fitter footer
  fitters footers
forfeit forefoot 
giddy goody
hick hook
  hicks hooks
hid hood
kick cook 
  kicked cooked 
  kicking cooking 
  kicks cooks 
kid could 
lick look
  licked looked
  licking looking
  licks looks
liquor looker
  liquors lookers
nick nook
  nicks nooks
patchily patchouli
pill pull
  pills pulls
pitch putsch
  pitches putsches
pit put
  pits puts
rick rook
  ricked rooked
  ricking rooking
  ricks rooks
Ricky rookie
sit soot
  sits soots
  sitting sooting
tic took
whippy whoopee
Wilf wolf
will wool
  wills wools
Willie woolly
willies woollies
Geographical: Outside English-speaking countries, most visitors are from Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, Jordan, Turkey, Germany, Malaysia, Yemen, Norway, India, Brazil, Denmark and Spain. Average 12 visitors per month.

John Higgins, Shaftesbury, January 2011