Vowels 5 and 17, /ɑ/ versus //    64 pairs      [tarntown.html]

The /ɑ/ vowel is usually spelled <ar> but we also find <a> in ma and <aa> in baa. The // diphthong is spelled <ou>, or <ow>.

This contrast is between a long vowel and a diphthong. The starting tongue positions are very close and confusions are possible even among native speakers.

Interesting pairs include:

starter stouter
trance trounce

The density value is 1.55%. The pairs make 32 semantic contrasts, giving a loading of 50%.

art out
baa bough
  baas boughs
baa bow
  baaing bowing
  baa'd bowed
  baas bows
bar bough  
  bars boughs
bar bow    
  barred bowed
  bars bows
bra brow
  bras brows
can't count
carboy cowboy
  carboys cowboys
card cowed
Carl cowl
car cow
  cars cows  
char chow
  chars chows
darn down 
  darned downed
  darning downing
  darns downs
dart doubt
  darted doubted
  darting doubting
  darts doubts
grass grouse
  grassed groused
  grasses grouses
  grassing grousing
ha how
lard loud
ma mow
Mars mows
mast moused
parch pouch
  parched pouched
  parches pouches
  parching pouching
part pout
  parted pouted
  parting pouting
  parts pouts
rah row
scar scow
  scars scows
spars spouse
start stout
starter stouter
tarn town
  tarns towns
tart tout
  tarted touted
  tarting touting
  tarts touts
trance trounce
  trances trounces
unbarred unbowed
vase vows

John Higgins, Shaftesbury, November 2009