Vowels 13 and 18, // versus /ɪə/     77 pairs       [railreal.html]

The // diphthong is spelled <aCe>, <ai>, <ay> or <ei> in neigh, and occurs in the letter names A and J. The /ɪə/ diphthong is spelled <eer>, <ear>, <ere> or <ier>, and <eir> in weird.

This is a contrast between two diphthongs. The starting positions are similar but the direction of movement is different. It is not a problem for learners.

Interesting pairs include:

arrays arrears

The density figure is 1.91%. The set makes 53 semantic contrasts giving a loading of 68.8%.

A ear
  A's ears
amaze ameers
arrays arrears
baize beers
bay beer
  bays beers
bay bier
  bays biers
bayed beard
bey beer
  beys beers
bey bier
  beys biers      
daily dearly
day dear
  days dears
day deer
face fierce
facer fiercer
fade feared
gay gear
  gays gears
hay hear
hay here
haze hears
J jeer
  J's jeers
jade jeered
lain lien
lane lien
  lanes liens
lay leer
  lays leers
may mere
Mays meres
nay near
neigh near
  neighed neared 
  neighs nears 
pace pierce
  paced pierced
  paces pierces
  pacing piercing
pay peer
  paid peered
  pays peers
pay pier
  pays piers  
phase fears
raid reared
rail real
raise rears	
raise rheas
ray rear
  rays rears
ray rhea	
  rays rheas
shade sheared
spade speared
spay spear
  spays spears
staid steered
stay steer
  stays steers
talus tearless
wade weird
wader weirder
way weir
  ways weirs
weigh weir
  weighs weirs  
weighed weird

John Higgins, Shaftesbury, December 2009