Vowels 7 and 10, /ɔ/ versus /ʌ/    193 pairs      [talktuck.html]

The /ɔ/ vowel is usually spelled <or>, <our>, and <oar>, but we also see <al> in hall, <au>, <aw> and <ar> after <w> in swarm and warned. The /ʌ/ vowel is spelled <u> and unusually <ou> in touch, <o> in ton. Notice how the homograph discourse is paired with discuss in one of its two pronunciations. It also turns up with different stress contrasted with schwa in another set of lists as discourse/discus.

This is a contrast between a long and a short vowel. They are fairly close together in the mouth but do not seem to cause many problems for learners. Even for speakers of five-vowel languages, the English /ɔ/ vowel gets associated with [o] while the /ʌ/ vowel is associated with [a].

One set of taboo word pairs occurs with fork/fuck.

Interesting pairs include:

borer borough
discourse discuss
horny honey
morsel muscle
raucous ruckus

The density figure is 4.17%. The set makes 94 semantic contrasts giving a loading of 48.4%.

abort abut
  aborted abutted
  aborting abutting
  aborts abuts
awes us
balk buck
  balked bucked
  balking bucking
  balks bucks
bauble bubble
  baubles bubbles
bawd bud
  bawds buds
bawdy buddy
board bud
  boarded budded
  boarding budding
  boards buds  
boars buzz	  
bores buzz
borer borough
  borers boroughs
bought but
bourn bun
  bourns buns
call cull
  called culled
  calling culling
  calls culls
caller colour
  callers colours
caught cut
cawed cud
chalk chuck
  chalked chucked
  chalking chucking
  chalks chucks
coarse cuss
corm come 
  corms comes 
corning cunning
Corp cup
corpse cups
course cuss
  courses cusses
  coursing cussing
  coursed cussed
court cut
  courting cutting
  courts cuts
daub dub
  daubed dubbed
  daubing dubbing
  daubs dubs
dawn done
  dawned dunned
  dawning dunning
  dawns duns
daws does
discourse discuss
  discoursed discussed
  discourses discusses
  discoursing discussing
Dorking ducking
dorm dumb
dormer dumber
exalt exult
  exaltation exultation
  exalted exulted
  exalting exulting
  exalts exults
faun fun
fawn fun
  fawned fund
fawns funds
flawed flood
Florrie flurry
force fuss
  forced fussed
  forces fusses
  forcing fussing
forge fudge
  forges fudges
fork fuck
  forked fucked
  forking fucking
  forks fucks
fours fuzz
gall gull
  galled gulled
  galling gulling
  galls gulls
Gaul gull
  Gauls gulls
George judge
  Georges judges
hall hull
  halls hulls
haul hull
  hauled hulled
  hauling hulling
  hauls hulls
haulm hum
haunch hunch
  haunches hunches
haunt hunt
  haunted hunted
  haunting hunting
  haunts hunts
hoary hurry
horny honey
horsy hussy
horn Hun 
  horns Huns 
launch lunch 
  launched lunched
  launches lunches
  launching lunching
Maud mud
Maudie muddy
maul mull
  mauled mulled
  mauling mulling
  mauls mulls
morgue mug
  morgues mugs
morsel muscle
  morsels muscles	 
morsel mussel
  morsels mussels  
mortar mutter
  mortared muttered
  mortaring muttering
  mortars mutters
naughty nutty
  naughtier nuttier
  naughtiest nuttiest
norm numb
  norms numbs
nought nut
  noughts nuts
ores us
pawn pun
  pawned punned
  pawning punning
  pawns puns
pork puck
porker pucker
  porkers puckers
porn pun
port putt
  ported putted
  porting putting
  ports putts
porter putter
  porters putters
paunch punch 
  paunches punches 
raucous ruckus
sauce suss
  sauced sussed
  sauces susses
  saucing sussing
scald sculled
scored scud
short shut
  shorting shutting
  shorts shuts
shorter shutter
Sean shun 
sorely sully
sortie suttee
  sorties suttees
spawn spun
stalk stuck
stored stud
sword sud
  swords suds 
swarm swum
talk tuck
  talked tucked
  talking tucking
  talks tucks
talker tucker
  talkers tuckers
thawed thud
torn ton
torch touch
  torches touches
tort tut
warn one 
  warns ones 
wrought rut

John Higgins, Shaftesbury, November 2009