Consonants /p/ and /b/, 612 pairs     [pinbin.html]

There are no problems with spelling since /p/ is always <p> or <pp>, while /b/ is always <b> or <bb>.

There were a number of pairs where the contrast occurred twice, such as pop/bob. I have left in one or two of the more interesting ones, such as purple/burble, though I removed most such pairs, since they are not really minimal.

The difference between these sounds is small enough to be a problem for many learners, especially when the sound is final in a monosyllable. This is a recognised difficulty for German and Dutch speakers, but even native speakers of English can make mistakes in rapid speech. When the contrasts is initial, it is a known problem for Arabic speakers. (I once had an essay from an Arabic-speaking student who wrote about "the Pig Pen watch", meaning Big Ben). It may also be a problem to some extent for speakers of Indian languages which use unaspirated initial voiceless stops and Southeast Asian languages which make a phonemic contrast between aspirated and unaspirated voiceless stops.

As usual, I have included inflected forms such as ropes/robes and roped/robed even though they are not strictly minimal. See the main page for an explanation.

The contrast may be neutralised after /s/ or /z/. Thus there is hardly any difference between "the spread" and "this bread". This is cleverly exploited by the small local business selling baked potatoes in Shaftesbury whose logo I have photographed:

Several taboo words occur in potentially embarrassing contrasts, such as crap/crab, peeing/being, and nipple/nibble.

Interesting pairs include:

ample amble
callipers calibres
oppressed abreast
pearly burly
plunder blunder
pullet bullet
pumpkin bumpkin
simple symbol
staple stable
The density value is 4.9%. The list makes 322 semantic contrasts, giving a semantic loading of 53%.
alp alb
ample amble
apace abase
ape Abe
apportion abortion
  apportions abortions
calipers calibres
  callipers calibres
camper camber
  campers cambers
cap cab
caper caber
  capers cabers
cop cob
copper cobber
  coppers cobbers
crap crab
  crapping crabbing
  craps crabs
crumple crumble
  crumpled crumbled
  crumples crumbles
  crumpling crumbling
cup cub
  cups cubs
dapple dabble
  dappled dabbled
  dapples dabbles
  dappling dabbling
dep deb
dipper dibber
  dippers dibbers
disperse disburse
  dispersed disbursed
  disperses disburses
  dispersing disbursing
Epping ebbing
fop fob
gap gab
grippe grebe
gyp jib
  gypping jibbing
harper harbour
  harpers harbours
hop hob
  hops hobs
knap nab
  knapping nabbing
lap lab
  laps labs
lip lib
  lips libs
lop lob
  lopping lobbing
  lops lobs
lope lobe
  lopes lobes
maple Mabel
Marple marble
mop mob
  mopping mobbing
nap nab
  napping nabbing
nip nib
nipple nibble
  nipples nibbles
op ob
open Oban
oppressed abreast
  P's B's
P be
P bee
  P's bees
pa baa
pa bah
pa bar
pace base
  paced based
  pacing basing
  paces bases
pace bass
  paces basses
paced baste
pack back
  packed backed
  packing backing
  packs backs
packer backer
  packers backers
pact backed
pad bad
pad bade
pail bail
  pails bails
pail bale
  pails bales
pain bane
  pains banes
  painful baneful
  painfully banefully 
pair bare
  paired bared
  pairs bares
  pairing baring
pale bail
  paled bailed
  paling bailing
  pales bails
pale bale
  paled baled
  pales bales
  paling baling
palate ballot
  palates ballots
pall ball
  palled balled
  palling balling
  palls balls
pall bawl
  palled bawled
  palling bawling
  palls bawls
palled bald
pally bally
palm balm
  palmy balmy
  palmier balmier
  palmiest balmiest
palm barm
  palmy barmy
pan ban
  panned banned
  panning banning
  pans bans
pang bang
  pangs bangs
pang bhang
  pangs bhangs
panga Bangor
panned band
pans banns
pant bant
  panted banted
  panting banting
  pants bants
pantry Bantry
par baa
  pars baas
par bah
par bar
  pars bars
pare bare
paring bearing
  parings bearings
park bark
  parked barked
  parking barking
  parks barks
park barque
  parks barques
parka barker
  parkas barkers
parley barley
parr baa
  parrs baas
parr bah
parr bar
  parrs bars
parry Barry
parse baas
parse bars
part Bart
pass baas
paste based
paste baste
  pasted basted
  pastes bastes
  pasting basting
pat bat
  pats bats
  patted batted
  patting batting
patch batch
  patches batches
pate bait
  pates baits
path bath
  paths baths
pathos bathos
patten batten
  pattens battens
patter batter
  pattered battered
  pattering battering
  patters batters
pattern batten
  patterned battened
  patterning battening
  patterns battens
patty batty
Paul ball
Paul bawl
pause boars
pause bores
paw boar
  paws boars
paw bore
  pawed bored
  paws bores
pawed bawd
pawed board
pawl ball
  pawls balls
pawl bawl
  pawls bawls
pawn born
pawn borne
pax backs
pay bey
  pays beys
pay bay
  paid bayed
  paying baying
pea B
  peas B's
pea be
pea bee
  peas bees
peach beach
  peached beached
  peaches beaches
  peaching beaching
peach beech
  peaches beeches
peak beak
  peaks beaks
pearly burly
  pearliest burliest
pease bees
pease B's
peat beat
peat beet
peck beck
  pecks becks
pee B
  pees B's
pee be
  peeing being
pee bee
  pees bees
peed bead
peek beak
  peeks beaks
peep beep
  peeps beeps
peer beer
  peers beers
peer bier
  peers biers
peered beard
peeves beeves
peg beg
  pegged begged
  pegging begging
  pegs begs
peke beak
  pekes beaks
pelt belt
  pelted belted
  pelting belting
  pelts belts
pen ben
  pens bens
pending bending
penned bend
penny Benny
peoples Peebles
per bur
per burr
perch birch
  perched birched
  perches birches
  perching birching
peri beery
peril beryl
  perils beryls
perk burke
  perked burked
  perking burking
  perks burkes
perry berry
perry bury
pert Bert
Perth berth
Perth birth
pertly Birtley
pest best
  pests bests
pet bet
  petted betted
  petting betting
  pets bets
Pete beat
Pete beet
peter beater
  peters beaters
peter beta
  peters betas
petty Betty
pi buy
pi by
picker bicker
  pickers bickers
pie buy
  pies buys
pie by
pieced beast
pied bide
pig big
pike bike
  pikes bikes
pile bile
pill bill
  pills bills
pillow billow
  pillowed billowed
  pillowing billowing
  pillows billows
pin bin
  pins bins
pined bind
pinnacle binnacle
  pinnacles binnacles
pious bias
pique beak
  piques beaks
pit bit
  pits bits
pitch bitch
  pitched bitched
  pitches bitches
  pitching bitching
plank blank
  planks blanks
planned bland
played blade
plays blaze
pleach bleach
  pleached bleached
  pleaches bleaches
  pleaching bleaching
plead bleed
  pleading bleeding
  pleads bleeds
pleat bleat
  pleated bleated
  pleating bleating
  pleats bleats
pled bled
plight blight
  plighted blighted
  plighting blighting
  plights blights
plot blot
  plots blots
  plotted blotted
  plotter blotter
  plotters blotters
  plotting blotting
ploughs blouse
plume bloom
  plumed bloomed
  plumes blooms
  pluming blooming
plunder blunder
  plundered blundered
  plunderer blunderer
  plunderers blunderers
  plundering blundering
  plunders blunders
plush blush
pocks box
podded bodied
poise boys
polar bowler
pole bole
  poles boles
pollard bollard
  pollards bollards
poll bowl
  polled bowled
  polling bowling
  polls bowls
polled bold
pollster bolster
  pollsters bolsters
polony baloney
pom bomb
  poms bombs
pond bond
  ponds bonds
pony bony
pooh boo
pool buhl
Poona buna
poor boor
pop bob
  popping bobbing
poppy bobby
  poppies bobbies
porch bortsch
pore boar
  pores boars
pore bore
  pored bored
  pores bores
  poring boring
pored bawd
pored board
pork balk
porn born
porn borne
porridge borage
port bought
pose beaux
pose bows
posh Boche
posh bosh
posse bossy
posses bosses
post boast
  posted boasted
  posting boasting
  posts posts
  poster boaster
  posters boasters
postern Boston
pother bother
  pothers bothers
pounce bounce
  pounced bounced
  pounces bounces
  pouncing bouncing
pound bound
  pounded bounded
  pounding bounding
  pounds bounds
  pounder bounder
  pounders bounders
pour boar
  pours boars
pour bore
  poured bored
  pouring boring
  pours bores
poured bawd
poured board
pout bout
  pouts bouts
power bower
  powers bowers
pox box
praise braes
praise brays
praise braise
  praised braised
  praising braising
  praises braises
pray brae
pray bray
  prayed brayed
  praying braying
  prays brays
prayed braid
prawn brawn
preach breach
  preached breached
  preaches breaches
  preaching breaching
preach breech
  preaches breeches
pressed breast
prick brick
  pricked bricked
  pricking bricking
  pricks bricks
pried bride
pride bride
  prides brides
prig brig
  prigs brigs
prim brim
  primmed brimmed
  primming brimming
  prims brims
prink brink
  prinks brinks
prior briar
  priors briars
prow brow
  prows brows
prows browse
Pru brew
prude brewed
prude brood
  prudes broods
puck buck
  pucks bucks
pudgy budgie
puff buff
  puffed buffed
  puffing buffing
  puffs buffs
pug bug
  pugs bugs
pull bull
  pulls bulls
pullet bullet
  pullets bullets
pulley bully
  pulleys bullies
pump bump
  pumped bumped
  pumping bumping
  pumps bumps
pumpkin bumpkin
  pumpkins bumpkins
pun bun
  puns buns
punch bunch
  punched bunched
  punches bunches
  punching bunching
punk bunk
  punks bunks
punkah bunker
  punkahs bunkers
punting bunting
pup pub
  pups pubs
purple burble
  purples burbles
purr bur
  purrs burs
purr burr
  purrs burrs
purred bird
pursed burst
purser bursar
  pursers bursars
pus bus
push bush
  pushes bushes
putsch butch
putt but
putt butt
  putted butted
  putter butter
  putting butting
  putts butts
puttered buttered
  puttering buttering
  putters butters
puttied butted
pyre buyer
  pyres buyers
rapid rabid
repel rebel
  repelled rebelled
  repelling rebelling
  repels rebels
rip rib
  ripping ribbing
rope robe
  roped robed
  ropes robes
  roping robing
rumple rumble
  rumpled rumbled
  rumples rumbles
  rumpling rumbling
simple cymbal
  simples cymbals
simple symbol
  simples symbols
slap slab
slop slob
sop sob
  sopping sobbing
staple stable
  stapled stabled
  staples stables
  stapling stabling
sup sub
  supping subbing
supper Sabah
swap swab
  swapping swabbing	
  swapped swabbed
  swaps swabs
tap tab
taper tabor
  tapers tabors
tepee TB
topi Toby
tripe tribe
  tripes tribes
tup tub
unpacked unbacked

John Higgins, Shaftesbury, November 2009