Vowels 8 and 17, /ʊ/ versus //    14 pairs      [fullfoul.html]

The /ʊ/ vowel is usually spelled <oo>, <u>, and <oul> in could. The // diphthong is spelled <ou> or <ow>. The computer also found the pairs luring/louring and tour/tower, but I have taken them out since the /ʊə/ diphthong in tour and luring is best treated as a distinct phoneme, and some speakers would use a palatal glide in luring in any case.

This is a contrast between a short vowel and a diphthong, fairly close in their starting positions in the mouth. There is some likelihood of confusion though not associated with any one group of learners.

The density figure is 0.71%. The set makes 6 semantic contrasts giving a loading of 42.9%.

could cowed
full foul 
  fuller fouler 
  fullest foulest 
  fullness foulness 
  fully foully 
fuller fowler
  fullers fowlers 
poorhouse powerhouse
  poorhouses powerhouses
put pout 
  puts pouts
putsch pouch
  putsches pouches 

John Higgins, Shaftesbury, December 2009