Vowels 7 and 16, /ɔ/ versus /əʊ/    287 pairs      [moremow.html]

The /ɔ/ vowel is usually spelled <or>, <our>, and <oar>, but we also see <al> in talk, <au> in gauze, <aw> in awe and <ar> after <w> in war and water. The /əʊ/ diphthong is usually spelled <oCe>, <oa> or <ow> but we also see <ou> in mould and the letter name O.

Although this is a contrast between a long vowel and a diphthong, the starting positions are close togther in the mouth and there is great potential for confusion, with both sounds associated with sounds in the learners' first language which have the letter o in spelling. It is a recognised difficulty for speakers of French, German, Greek, Russian, Turkish, Swahili, and probably many others.

Interesting pairs include:

cantors cantos
explored explode
mortar motor
paltry poultry

The density figure is 6.18%. The set makes 142 semantic contrasts giving a loading of 49.5%.

aboard abode
alder older
auburn Oban
auger ogre
  augers ogres
aught oat
auk oak
   auks oaks
awe O
  awes O's 
awed ode
awing owing
awning owning
bald bold
  balder bolder
  baldest boldest
  baldly boldly
  baldness boldness
ball bole
  balls boles
bawd bode
  bawds bodes
boar beau
  boars beaux	 
boar bow
  boars bows
bore beau
  bores beaux
bore bow
  bores bows      
board bode
  boarded boded
  boarding boding
  boards bodes
bourn bone
calk coke
  calked coked
  calking coking
calks coax
call coal
  calls coals
  called coaled
  calling coaling	
caller cola  
  callers colas
cantors cantos
caught coat
causes cosies
cawed code
chalk choke
  chalked choked
  chalking choking
  chalks chokes
  chalky chokey
chaws chose
clause close
  clauses closes
caw Co		
chord code
  chords codes
coursed coast 
cord code
  cords codes
  corded coded
  coding cording
cork coke
  corks cokes
corks coax  
corm comb
  corms combs
corn Colne 
corn cone 
  corned coned 
  corns cones 
  corning coning
corny coney 
corpse copes 
Corby Kobe
Corp cope
court coat
  courted coated
  courting coating
  courts coats
crore crow
  crores crows
daunt don't
daw doe
  daws does
drawl droll
drawn drone
explored explode 
fall foal
  falling foaling
  falls foals	 
faugh foe  
faun phone
  fauns phones
fawn phone
  fawned phoned
  fawning phoning
  fawns phones
flaw flow
  flawed flowed
  flaws flows	  
for foe
fore foe  
form foam 
  formed foamed 
  forming foaming
  forms foams
four foe
  fours foes
fork folk
   forks folks
galled gold
gaud goad
  gauds goads
Gaul goal
  Gauls goals
gauze goes
ghat goat
  ghats goats
gnaw know
  gnawed node
  gnawing knowing
  gnaws knows
hall hole
  halls holes	 
haul hole
  hauls holes  
  hauled holed
  hauling holing
hauled hold
haulier holier
haulm home
haw ho
hawed hoed
  hawing hoeing
  haws hoes
hawks hoax
hoard hoed
horde hoed
horn hone
  horned honed
  horns hones
  horning honing
Horley holy
jaw Joe
laud load
  lauded loaded
  lauding loading
  lauds loads
law low
  laws lows
lawn loan
  lawns loans
lord load
  lords loads
  lorded loaded
  lording loading
malt moult
  malted moulted
  malting moulting
  malts moults
Maud mode
maul mole
  mauls moles
maw mow
  maws mows
more mow
morn moan
mourn moan 
  mourned moaned
  mourning moaning 
  mourns moans
mauled mould 
mortar motor
  mortared motored
  mortaring motoring
  mortars motors
norm gnome
  norms gnomes
nought note
  noughts notes
order odour 
  orders odours 
overawed overrode
oversaw oversew
pall pole 
  palled polled
  palling polling
  palls poles 
paltry poultry
pause pose
  paused posed
  pauses poses
  pausing posing
pawky poky
pawn pone
  pawns pones
porch poach
  porches poaches
pork poke
  porker poker
  porkers pokers
portable potable
portion potion
  portions potions
prawn prone
punchball punchbowl
  punchballs punchbowls
quart quote
  quarts quotes
quarters quotas
raw roe
roared road 
roars Rose 
saw sew
  sawed sewed
  sawing sewing
  sawn sewn
  saws sews	  
saw sow
  saws sows
  sawing sowing
  sawn sown  
scald scold
  scalded scolded
  scalding scolding
  scalds scolds
scrawl scroll
  scrawls scrolls
  scrawling scrolling
  scrawled scrolled
shawl shoal
  shawls shoals
shored showed
shore show
  shored showed
  shores shows
shorn shown
slaw sloe
snore snow 
  snored snowed
  snores snows
sorely solely
stalk stoke
  stalked stoked
  stalker stoker
  stalkers stokers
  stalking stoking
  stalks stokes
stall stole
  stalls stoles
store stow
  stored stowed
  stores stows
strawed strode
talk toque
  talks toques		
taught tote
taut tote  
tor toe 
  tors toes
tor tow
  tors tows
tore toe
tore tow  
torn tone
tawny Tony
torpor toper 
  torpors topers 
tort tote
  torts totes
trawl troll
  trawled trolled
  trawling trolling
  trawls trolls
vault volt
  vaults volts
walk woke
walled wold	  
war woe
  wars woes
ward woad
York yoke

John Higgins, Shaftesbury, December 2009