Consonants // versus /n/, 54 pairs     [thynigh.html]

The // sound is spelled with <th>. The /n/ sound is spelled with <n>, <nn> or <gn>. Sometimes a final /Ɵ/ is voiced when made plural, which is why there is no matching singular forms for the pair oaths/owns.

This is a contrast between a dental fricative and an alveolar nasal continuant, both voiced. It is not a problem.

Since /n/ is a common sound while / is rare, the mean density value is low at 0.4%. The list makes 40 semantic distinctions, a loading of 74%.

bathe bane 
baths barns 
booth boon 
  booths boons 
clothe clone 
  clothes clones 
dither dinner 
  dithers dinners 
lathe lain 
lathe lane
  lathes lanes 
laths larns 
lithe line 
loathe loan 
  loathed loaned 
  loathes loans 
  loathing loaning 
loathsome lonesome
mouthed mound 
oaths owns
scythed signed
seethe scene 
  seethes scenes 
sheathe sheen
soothe soon 
swathe swain 
  swathes swains 
teethe teen
  teethes teens 
tether tenner 
  tethers tenners 
that Nat 
that gant
thee knee 
their ne'er 
these knees 
they ne 
thine nine 
though know 
those knows 
thou now 
thy nigh 
tithe Tyne 
tithe tine
  tithes tines 
whither winner
with whin 
with win
wither winner
  withers winners 
withy whinny 
  withies whinnies 
writhe Rhine 
writhed rind 

John Higgins, Shaftesbury, November 2010.