Vowels 1 and 5, /i/ versus /ɑ/    312 pairs     [meekmark.html]

The /i/ vowel, as well as its common spellings of <ee> and <ea>, appears often in this list in the name of the alphabet characters B, E, G, P, T and V, since it is here in contrast with a long vowel which can appear in an open syllable. The /ɑ/ vowel is most often spelled with <ar> (remember that this dictionary records British Received Pronunciation which does not have post-vocalic [r]), but we also see a wide range of less usual spellings such as <aa> in kraal, <a> in demand and fast, <al> in psalm, <er> in clerk, <ear> in heart, <au> in laugh, and <aCe> in vase. It is also in the letter name R.

The two vowels, in spite of their similarity of length, are so far apart in articulation that it is almost inconceivable that they could be confused. All the minimal pairs show the contrast occurring on the stressed syllable.

Three pairs of potentially embarrassing rude word contrasts show up: feet and fart, pee and pa, and pees and parse.

Interesting pairs include:

cheetah charter
peacetime pastime
peaty party
stealing starling

The mean density is 5.9%. The 316 pairs make 196 semantic contrasts, giving a semantic loading of 62%.

aether Arthur 
B baa
  B's baas
B bah
B bar
  B's bars
be baa
  being baaing 
be bah
be bar
bee baa
  bees baas
bee bah
bee bar
  bees bars
bead baa'd 
bead bard
  beads bards
bead barred
beak bark 
  beaks barks 
beak barque
  beaks barques
beaker barker 
  beakers barkers 
beam balm 
beam barm
bean barn 
  beans barns 
beat Bart
beater barter 
  beaters barters 
been barn
beet Bart
Beith bath 
beta barter
  betas barters
breeze bras 
careen Koran 
  careens Korans 
cheat chart 
  cheated charted 
  cheating charting 
  cheats charts 
cheese chars 
cheetah charter
  cheetahs charters 
chic shark
chief chaff 
  chiefs chaffs 
clique clerk 
  cliques clerks 
creel kraal
  creels kraals
deacon darken 
  deacons darkens 
dealing darling 
  dealings darlings 
dean darn
  deans darns 
demeaned demand 
dreamer drama
dreamers dramas 
E ah
E are
  E's ares
  E's R's
each arch
ease ares
ease R's
eat art 
  eats arts
eke arc 
  ekes arcs 
eke ark
  ekes arks
ether Arthur
feast fast 
  feasted fasted 
  feasting fasting 
  feasts fasts 
feat fart 
  feats farts 
fee fa 
fee far
feet fart
femur farmer 
  femurs farmers 
G jar
  G's jars
gee jar
grease grass 
  greased grassed 
  greases grasses 
  greasier grassier 
  greasiest grassiest 
  greasing grassing 
  greasy grassy 
greaves graves 
greets Graz 
grief graph 
  griefs graphs 
grieve grave 
  grieves graves
he ha 
heap harp 
  heaped harped 
  heaping harping 
  heaps harps 
heat hart
  heats harts
heat heart
  heated hearted 
  heats hearts
heath hearth
  heaths hearths
heave halve 
  heaved halved 
  heaves halves 
  heaving halving 
heed hard
keel Carl 
keen Calne 
keen khan
  keens khans
keep carp 
  keeping carping 
  keeps carps 
key car
  keys cars 
keyed card 
kilo Carlow 
kneeled gnarled 
lea la
leach larch 
  leaches larches 
  lead lard 
  leading larding 
leads lards
leader larder
  leaders larders
leaf laugh 
  leafed laughed 
  leafing laughing 
  leafs laughs 
leagues Largs 
leak lakh
  leaks lakhs 
leak lark
  leaked larked 
  leaking larking 
 leaks larks
lean Larne 
lean larn
  leaned larned 
  leaning larning 
  leans larns 
leased last 
least last
lee la
leech larch
  leeches larches
Leeds lards
leek lakh
  leeks lakhs
leek lark
  leeks larks
Leigh la
lemur lama
  lemurs lamas 
lemur llama
  lemurs llamas
lever larva
lever lava
lieder larder
lief laugh
liege large
Lima lama
Lima llama
lists lasts
me ma 
me mar
mead marred 
meal marl 
mealie Mali 
mealy Mali
meat mart 
  meats marts 
meed marred
meek Mach
meek marque
meek mark
  meeker marker 
meet mart
  meets marts
mete mart
  metes marts
meter martyr 
  meters martyrs 
metre martyr
  metres martyrs
mi ma
mi mar
overreach overarch
  overreached overarched 
  overreaches overarches 
  overreaching overarching 
P pa
P pah
P par
  P's pars
P parr
  P's parrs
P's parse
pea pa
pea pah
pea par
peas parrs
peas pars
  peas pars
pea parr
  peas parrs
peace pass 
  peaceable passable 
  peaceably passably 
peacetime pastime 
peach parch
  peached parched 
  peaches parches 
  peaching parching 
peak park 
  peaked parked 
  peaking parking 
  peaks parks 
peaky parky 
peas parse
pease parrs
pease pars
pease parse
peat part
peaty party 
pee pa
pee pah
pee par
  pees pars
pee parr
  pees parrs
peek park
  peeked parked
  peeking parking
  peeks parks
peeler parlour 
  peelers parlours 
pees parse
peke park
  pekes parks
Peking parking
Pete part
piece pass
  pieced passed 
  pieces passes 
  piecing passing 
pique park
  piqued parked
  piques parks
  piquing parking
quay car
  quays cars
re rah 
reader RADA
reefed raft 
seam psalm 
  seams psalms 
seem psalm
  seems psalms
she shah 
sheep sharp 
ski scar
  ski'd scarred 
  skis scars 
sleeve Slav 
  sleeves Slavs 
speak spark 
  speaking sparking 
  speaks sparks 
speed sparred 
stealing starling 
steed starred 
steeling starling
Steve starve
T ta
T tar
  T's tars
tea ta
tea tar
  teas tars
tease tars
teat tart 
  teats tarts
tee ta
tee tar
  teed tarred
  tees tars
teen tarn
  teens tarns 
teeter tartar 
  teeters tartars 
ti ta
ti tar
V's vase
ye yah
zee czar
  zees czars

Geographical: Most visitors other than from English-speaking countries were from Hong Kong, Philippines, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, Germnay, Ecuador, Malaysia, India, Pakistan, Norway, Indonesia, Jordan, Turkey, South Korea and Chile. Average 50 visitors per month.

John Higgins, Shaftesbury, January 2011