Consonants /z/ versus /l/, 322 pairs     [zaplap.html]

The /z/ sound is spelled with <z>, <zz>, <s> or <se>. The /l/ sound is spelled with <l>, <ll> or <le>. There are several pairs which contrast /z/ with a syllabic /l/ such as approves/approval. I have left them in although their status is doubtful, since the syllable count is different. The problem is brought out by the set bows/bowers/bowel. Which two of those three constitute the minimal pair? The program picket out bowers/bowel, but this seems at variance with its behaviour elsewhere. There is also some doubt about the status of the pairs ideas/ideal and rears/real, since many speakers use different vowel sounds. Notice how the homograph does makes pairs with dole and dull.

This is a contrast between a sibilant fricative and a lateral continuant, both in the alveolar region of the mouth and both voiced. It is not a problem, although the /l/ sound may be troublesome for some learners.

The only mildly taboo word pair is wees/wheel.

Interesting pairs include:

hosier holier
parses parleys
scissors Scyllas
visage village

The mean density value is 1.5%. The list makes 260 semantic distinctions, a loading of 81%.

appease appeal 
  appeased appealed 
  appeasing appealing 
approves approval 
Arabs arable
areas aerial 
arrives arrival 
A's ail
as Al 
assays assail 
auras aural 
Aussie Ollie
awes all 
awes awl
baize bail 
baize bale 
bays bail
bays bale
beaux bole 
beys bail
beys bale
betrayers betrayal 
biz Bill 
boars ball 
boos buhl
bores ball
bows bowl
bowers bowel 
boys boil 
braes braille
braise Braille
busy Billy 
  busies billies 
buys bile 
byes bile
Caesar sealer
cancers cancel 
cars Carl 
cause call 
  caused called 
  causing calling 
caws call
chaise shale
coos cool 
Cowes cowl
cows cowl
crores crawl 
C's seal
curds curdle 
curs curl 
daisy daily 
  daisies dailies 
days dale 
daze dale
defies defile
Des dell
does dole
does dull
dowers dowel 
doze dole
  dozing doling 
  dozed doled
drawers drawl 
D's deal
dyers dial 
ease eel
easing Ealing 
easy Ely 
errs earl 
E's eel
ewes Yule
ewers Ewell 
excise exile
eyes aisle
eyes isle
fees feel 
fez fell 
fires phial
firs furl
fizz fill 
  fizzed filled 
  fizzes fillies 
  fizzing filling 
fizzy filly 
flays flail 
foes foal 
fours fall 
frays frail 
frizz frill 
  frizzed frilled 
frizzy frilly 
  frizzier frillier 
  frizziest frilliest 
gauze gall
gauze Gaul 
gays Gael
gays gale
gaze Gael
gaze gale 
goes goal 
gores gall
gores Gaul 
grays grail 
graze grail
guise guile
guys guile
has Hal 
haws hall 
haze hail 
  hazed hailed 
  hazing hailing
haze hale
hazing Hayling 
hers hurl
his hill 
hoes hole
hose hole
  hosed holed 
  hosing holing
hoses holies 
hosier holier 
house howl 
  housed howled
  housing howling
ideas ideal 
informs informal 
interns internal 
intestines intestinal 
I's aisle
I's isle
is ill 
Jews joule
J's gaol
keys keel 
knees kneel
knees Neil 
knows knoll 
K's kail
lies lisle 
Lizzy Lily 
Lyons Lionel 
margins marginal 
Mars marl 
maws maul 
maxims maximal 
Mays mail
Mays male
maize mail
maize male
meridians meridional
mews mule
minims minimal 
miser miler 
  misers milers 
mows mole 
muse mule
neighs nail 
news newel
newsy newly 
noes knoll
nose knoll
ores all
ores awl
organizations organizational 
overawes overall 
parses parleys 
pause Paul 
pasties pastille
pause pall
  paused palled 
  pausing palling 
paws Paul
paws pall
pays pail 
pays pale
peepers peepul
pews pule
phase fail 
  phased failed 
  phasing failing 
pies pile
pose pole 
  posing poling
  posed poled
pose poll
  posing polling
  posed polled 
poser polar 
pros prole 
prose prole
prows prowl 
purrs pearl 
quays keel
quiz quill 
raise rail 
  raised railed 
  raising railing 
rays rail
rears real 
rectors rectal 
regions regional 
removers removal 
resent relent 
  resented relented 
  resenting relenting 
  resents relents 
reside relied 
retinas retinal 
retrievers retrieval 
revise revile 
  revised reviled 
  revising reviling 
revives revival 
rise rile 
  rising riling 
rose rôle
rose roll
rues rule
ruse rule
says cell 
scissors Scyllas 
scows scowl 
seas seal
sees seal
seize seal
  seized sealed 
  seizing sealing
seizing ceiling 
sews Seoul 
sews soul
sews sole
shores shawl 
shows shoal
sirrahs Cyril 
sows Seoul
sows soul
sows sole 
squaws squall 
squeeze squeal 
  squeezed squealed 
  squeezer squealer 
squeezing squealing 
  squeezers squealers 
stays stale 
sties stile 
sties style
stores stall 
stows stole 
survives survival 
Swansea Swanley 
swiz swill 
tammies Tamil 
tawse tall 
teas teal
tees teal
Thais tile
ties tile
toes toll
towers towel 
toys toil 
trays trail 
triers trial 
T's teal
twos tool 
U's Yule
vies vile
virgins virginal 
visage village 
  visages villages 
visor viler 
V's veal
wars wall 
ways wail 
wees weal  
wees wheel
weighs wail
wheeze weal
wheeze wheel
  wheezing wheeling   
  wheezed wheeled
wheezed weald 
whirrs whirl 
whiz will 
  whizzed willed
  whizzes willies
  whizzing willing
whores hall
whys while
wise while
yaws yawl 
Y's while
Z lead
  Z's leads
Z led
zap lap 
  zapped lapped 
  zapping lapping 
  zaps laps 
zee Leigh 
zee lea
  zees leas
zee lee
zees zeal 
Zen Len 
zest lest 
zinc link 
zing ling 
Zion lion
zip lip 
  zipped lipped 
  zips lips 
zone loan 
  zoned loaned 
  zones loans 
  zoning loaning 
zoo lieu 
zoo loo
  zoos loos 
zoom loom 
  zoomed loomed 
  zooming looming 
  zooms looms 

John Higgins, Shaftesbury, November 2010.