Consonants /v/ versus /w/, 65 pairs     [vestwest.html]

The /v/ sound is spelled with <v>, while the /w/ sound is spelled <w> or <wh>. The contrast only occurs initially or medially.

The contrast is between a labio-dental fricative and a bilabial semivowel, both voiced. It can be a problem for many learners, including Dutch, Germans, Scandinavians, Spaniards, Russians and Chinese.

The pair is used in the book title Verse and Worse. The pair vaulter/Walter occurs in a joke once told by Richard Whiteley on Countdown, set in an international athletics meeting:

"Are you a pole-vaulter?"
"No, I am German, but how did you know my name?"
Other interesting pairs include:

viper wiper
wavered wayward

The mean density value is 1.2%. The list makes 37 semantic distinctions, a loading of 60%.

levered leeward
V we
V wee
  V's wees
V's wheeze  
vac whack
  vacs whacks
vacs wax
vale wail
  vales wails
vale whale
  vales whales	 
vales Wales  
vary wary
vaulter Walter 
veal wheel
veer Wear
veer weir
  veers weirs
veered weird
veil wail
  veils wails
  veiled wailed
  veiling wailing
veil whale
  veils whales
  veiling whaling
vein wane
  veins wanes
  veined waned
vend wend
  vended wended
  vending wending
  vends wends
vent went
verse worse
  versed worst
very wherry
vest west
vet wet
  vets wets
  vetted wetted
  vetting wetting
Vic wick
victual whittle
  victualled whittled
  victuals whittles
vie Y
  vies Y's
vies wise
vied wide
vile while
vim whim
Vince wince
vine whine
  vines whines
vine wine
  vines wines
viper wiper
  vipers wipers
visor wiser
volley Wally
vow wow
  vows wows
wavered wayward

John Higgins, Shaftesbury, November 2010.