Vowels 7 and 12, /ɔ/ versus /ə/    21 pairs      [centaur.html]

The /ɔ/ vowel is usually spelled <or> but we also see <our> and <au> and <aur>. The schwa is most often spelled <er>, but we also see <a> and <o> in cos (the weak form of because pronounced /kəz/). Not listed in this dictionary with both pronunciations, the strong and weak forms of for, /fɔ/and /fə/ also make a minimal pair. The homograph discourse turns up here contrasted with discus, having been in another list with different stress in the pair discourse/discuss. Notice also how the homographs consort and concert actually make minimal pairs both as two nouns and as two verbs.

This contrast between a long vowel and the schwa is unlikely to cause problems since the schwa is always unstressed.

The list has a number of polysyllable pairs, where the contrast occurs on a syllable either unstressed or carrying secondary stress, including:

audition addition
centaur centre
concord conquered
exorcise exercise

The density figure is trivially small at 0.45%. The set makes 12 semantic contrasts giving a loading of 57.1%.

audition addition 
  auditions additions 
awe a 
cantor canter 
  cantors canters 
cause cos 
centaur centre 
  centaurs centres 
concord conquered
conformation confirmation 
  conformations confirmations 
consort concert 
  consorts concerts 
discourse discus
  discourses discuses
exorcize exercise 
  exorcized exercised 
  exorcizes exercises 
  exorcizing exercising 
haulm h'm 
lessor lesser 

John Higgins, Shaftesbury, December 2009