The /ɒ/ vowel is usually spelled <o> but we also find <a> after <w> in Wally and wand, and unusually <oCe> in scone. The /ɔ/ vowel is spelled <or>, <aw>, <au>, or <ar> after <w> in warn.
This contrast is between a short and a long vowel, both rounded and quite close together in the mouth. It is a recognised problem for Spanish, Portuguese, Greek, Farsi, Arabic, Chinese, and Swahili speakers, and may be a source of confusion for others too.
The only taboo word pair is cock/cork.
Interesting pairs include:
The often/orphan pair is featured prominently in the dialogue of the Gilbert and Sullivan opera The Pirates of Penzance. In the nineteenth century the words would have been closer to being homophones.
The density value is 3.76%. The pairs make 102 semantic contrasts, giving a loading of 58.6%.
Boche borsch bod bawd bods bawds bod board bods boards bod bored bodied boarded body bawdy Bonn bourne botch bortsch box balks chock chalk chocked chalked chocking chalking chocks chalks choler caller cholers callers clod Claud cobble corbel cobbles corbels cock cork cocks corks cocked corked cocker corker cockers corkers cocking calking cod cawed cod chord cods chords cod cored cod cord codded corded codding cording cods chords col call cols calls con corn conned corned conning corning cons corns Connie corny cop Corp cops corpse copses corpses coral choral cos coarse cosset corset cossets corsets cost coursed cot caught cot court cots courts docking Dorking Dolly Dawley don dawn donned dawned donning dawning dons dawns folly Fawley fond fawned fosse force fosses forces fox forks god gaud gods gauds hock hawk hocked hawked hocking hawking hocks hawks hod hawed hods hoards holly Horley Hon horn knot naught knots naughts knotty naughty knottier naughtier knottiest naughtiest Lodz lauds Mod Maud moll maul molls mauls Molly Morley moss Morse mottle mortal mottles mortals nod gnawed notch nautch notches nautches ob orb odd awed odder order offal awful often orphan ox auks oz awes pock pork pod pawed poll pall polls palls pond pawned poppa pauper poppas paupers popper pauper poppers paupers pot port pots ports potted ported potting porting pothole porthole potholes portholes pottage portage pottages portages potter porter potters porters rod roared rotten Wroughton scone scorn scones scorns scotch scorch scotched scorched scotches scorches scotching scorching shod shored shone shorn shot short shots shorts Shotton shorten snot snort snotty snorty snottier snortier snottiest snortiest sod soared sod sword sods swords sot sort sots sorts spot sport spots sports spotted sported spotting sporting stock stalk stocked stalked stocking stalking stocks stalks stockpot Stockport swan sworn topper torpor toppers torpors tot tort tots torts totter tauter wad ward wadded warded wadding warding wads wards Wally Warley wan warn wand warned was wars watt wart watts warts what wart whop warp whopped warped whopping warping whops warps wobble warble wobbled warbled wobbles warbles wobbling warbling wobbler warbler wobblers warblers yon yawn
John Higgins, Shaftesbury, November 2009