Vowels 7 and 9, /ɔ/ versus /u/    186 pairs      [warmwomb.html]

The /ɔ/ vowel is usually spelled <or> and <oar>, but we also see <al> in ball and hall, <au>, <aw> and <ar> after <w> in warned. The /u/ vowel is spelled <oo>, <u> or <ew>, and unusually <ui> in suit, <o> in womb and <ou> in the homograph wound..

This is a contrast between two long vowels. They are fairly close together in the mouth but do not seem to cause many problems for learners, except to some extent with Scandinavians who may be affected by the spelling.

Interesting pairs include:

dawdle doodle
fraught fruit
overall overrule

The density figure is 4.02%. The set makes 113 semantic contrasts giving a loading of 60.8%.

awes ooze
ball buhl
bawd booed	
boar boo
  boars boos
boars booze
board booed	  
bore boo
  bored booed
  bores boos
bores booze    
bought boot 
bourn boon
broad brewed 
broad brood
  broads broods
brought bruit
brought brute
call cool
  called cooled
  calling cooling
  calls cools
caller cooler
  callers coolers
caught coot
cause coos
caw coo
  cawed cooed
  cawing cooing
  caws coos
chaw chew
  chawed chewed
  chawing chewing
  chaws chews
Claud clued
clause clues
claw clue
  clawing cluing	 
  clawed clued
  claws clues
core coo
  cores coos
corn coon 
  corns coons 
Corp coop
corpse coops 
court coot
  courts coots 
crore crew
  crores crews 
crores cruise
daw do
dawdle doodle
  dawdled doodled
  dawdles doodles
  dawdling doodling
daws do's
draw drew
drawl drool
  drawled drooled
  drawling drooling
  drawls drools
fall fool
  falling fooling
  falls fools
flautist flutist
  flautists flutists
flaw flew
  flaws flues
ford food 
  fords foods 
fraught fruit
Gaul ghoul
  Gauls ghouls
gnaw gnu
  gnaws gnus
gorse goose 
hall who'll
haulm whom
haw who
hawed who'd
haws who's
jaw Jew 
  jaws Jews 
law lieu
lawn loon
  lawns loons
law loo
  laws loos
lord lewd
Maud mood
Maudie moody
maw moo
  maws moos
morn moon 
  morns moons 
morning mooning 
Morse moose
mourn moon
  mourned mooned 
  mourning mooning
  mourns moons
Norse noose
overall overrule
overdraw overdrew
pall pool
  palled pooled
  palling pooling
  palls pools
Paul Poole
paw pooh
prawn prune
  prawned pruned
  prawning pruning
  prawns prunes
raw rue		
roar rue
  roared rued
roared rood
roared rude
saw Sioux 
saw sue
  saws sues
scald schooled	 
shore shoe
  shored shooed 
  shores shoes 
short chute 
  shorts chutes 
short shoot
  shorting shooting 
  shorts shoots
shorter shooter 
slaw slew
snored snood 
snores snooze 
snorty snooty 
  snortier snootier 
  snortiest snootiest 
soar Sioux
soar sue
  soars sues
soar sou
  soars sous
sore Sioux
sore sou
  sores sous	 
sore sue
  sores sues  
sort suit
  sorted suited
  sorting suiting
  sorts suits
sorter suitor
  sorters suitors
spawn spoon
  spawned spooned
  spawning spooning
  spawns spoons
stall stool
  stalls stools
straw strew
  straws strews
sworn swoon 
tall tool
tor too
tor two
  tors twos
tore too
tore two
war woo
  wars woos
ward wooed
warm womb
  warms wombs
warned wound
wharf woof
  wharfs woofs
withdraw withdrew
wrought root
yaw yew
  yaws yews
yaw you
yawed you'd
yawl you'll
yaws U's 

John Higgins, Shaftesbury, November 2009