Consonants /s/ versus /h/, 305 pairs     [sothot.html]

Cartoon by David Haldane
from a flood report
in The Times
26 Sep 2012.

The /s/ sound is normally spelled with <s> or with <c> before <e>, <i> or <y> in cyst. We also see <sw> in sword and <ps> in psalm. The /h/ sound is spelled with <h>, or <wh> in whore. Notice how the homograph sow makes pairs with hoe and how.

This is a contrast between an alveolar sibilant fricative and a glottal fricative, both voiceless. It can only occur initially or medially. It may cause problems especially for speakers of languages which do not have an initial /h/, such as French and Spanish.

The mean density value is 1.9%. The list makes 153 semantic distinctions, a loading of 50%.

C he
cede heed
  ceded heeded
  cedes heeds
  ceding heeding
ceiling healing
cell hell
  cells hells
cert hurt
  certs hurts
certs hertz
cinder hinder
  cinders hinders
cissies hisses
cite height
  cites heights
cyst hissed
psalm harm 
  psalms harms 
psalter halter 
  psalters halters 
pseud hewed 
sack hack 
  sacked hacked 
  sacking hacking 
  sacks hacks 
sad had 
sag hag 
  sags hags 
said head 
sail hail
  sailed hailed 
  sailing hailing 
  sails hails 
sail hale
sake hake 
sale hail
  sales hails
sallow hallow 
  sallowed hallowed 
  sallowing hallowing 
  sallows hallows 
Sally Halle 
salt halt 
  salted halted 
  salting halting 
  salts halts 
Sam ham
sandal handle 
  sandalled handled 
  sandals handles 
sandbag handbag 
  sandbags handbags 
sand hand
  sanded handed 
  sanding handing 
  sands hands 
sandy handy
  sandier handier 
  sandiest handiest 
  sandiness handiness 
sang hang 
sank hank 
sap hap 
  sapped happed 
  sapping happing 
  saps haps 
sappy happy 
  sappier happier 
  sappiest happiest 
sash hash 
  sashes hashes 
sate hate 
  sated hated 
  sates hates 
  sating hating 
satyr hatter 
  satyrs hatters 
sauce hoarse 
sauce horse
  sauces horses 
saucer hoarser 
saucy horsy 
savanna Havana 
  savannahs Havanas 
savour haver
  savouring havering 
  savoured havered
  savours havers
saw haw 
  sawed hawed 
  sawing hawing 
  saws haws 
saw hoar
saw whore
  saws whores
sawn horn 
say hay 	
sea he
seal heal
  sealed healed 
  seals heals
  sealing healing
seal heel
  sealed heeled 
  seals heels
  sealing heeling
sealer healer 
  sealers healers 
Sealyham helium
sear hear 
  searing hearing 
  sears hears 
seat heat
  seated heated 
  seats heats
  seating heating
sec heck 
  secs hecks 
sector hector 
  sectors hectors 
sedge hedge 
  sedges hedges 
see he
seed heed
  seeded heeded
  seedes heeds
  seeding heeding
seedless heedless 
seep heap
  seeped heaped 
  seeping heaping 
  seeps heaps
seesaw heehaw 
  seesaws heehaws 
sell hell
  sells hells
Selston Helston 
selves helves 
sends hens 
senna henna 
sense hence 
Seoul hole
Seoul whole
seven heaven 
  sevens heavens 
sew ho 
sew hoe
  sewed hoed 
  sewing hoeing 
  sews hoes 
sewer hewer 
  sewers hewers 
sewn hone 
sick hick
  sicks hicks 
side hide
  sides hides
  siding hiding
sidings hidings 
sigh hi 
sigh hie
  sighing hieing 
  sighed hied
  sighs hies 
sighed hide
sight height
  sights heights
signed hind 
silly hilly 
  sillier hillier 
  silliest hilliest 
silt hilt 
  silts hilts 
Simon hymen
singe hinge 
  singed hinged 
  singeing hinging 
  singes hinges 
sinus highness 
  sinuses highnesses 
Sioux Hoo 
sir her 
  sirs hers 
sire higher 
sire hire
  sired hired 
  sires hires 
  siring hiring 
site height
  sites heights
so ho
so hoe
soaks hoax 
soap hope 
  soaped hoped 
  soaping hoping 
  soaps hopes 
soar haw 
  soared hawed
  soars haws
soar hoar 
soar whore
  soars whores
  soared whored
  soaring whoring
soared hoard
soared horde
sob hob 
  sobs hobs 
Soc hock
sock hock 
  socked hocked 
  socking hocking 
  socks hocks 
sod hod 
  sods hods 
sold hold 
sold holed
sole hole 
  soled holed
  soles holes 
  soling holing 
soled hold
solely holy 
some hum 
son Hun
  sons Huns 
sonny honey
  sonnies honeys 	 
sop hop 
  sopped hopped 
  sopping hopping 
  sops hops 
sore haw 
  sores haws 
sore hoar 
sore whore
  sores whores
sorely Horley 
sot hot 
  sots hots 
sough huff 
  soughed huffed 
  soughing huffing 
  soughs huffs 
soul hole
  souls holes
soul whole
  souls wholes
sound hound 
  sounded hounded 
  sounding hounding 
  sounds hounds 
soup hoop 
  souped hooped 
  souping hooping 
  soups hoops 
source hoarse 
source horse
  sources horses 
soured Howard 
sous whose
souse house 
sow ho
sow hoe
  sowed hoed 
  sowing hoeing 
  sows hoes 
sow how 
sows house 
sub hub 
  subs hubs 
such hutch 
sue hew
  sues hews 
  suing hewing 
sue hue
  sues hues
sue Hugh 
suitor hooter 
  suitors hooters 
sulk hulk 
  sulking hulking 
  sulks hulks 
sum hum
  summed hummed 
  summing humming 
  sums hums 
sump hump 
  sumps humps 
sun Hun
  suns Huns
sunny honey 
sunk hunk 
surd heard 
Surrey hurry
susses hussies 	  
sword hoard
  swords hoards 
sword horde
  swords hordes 
sword whored
unsealed unhealed 
unseeded unheeded 

John Higgins, Shaftesbury, October 2012.