The /ɑ/ vowel is usually spelled <ar> but we also find <a> in ma, <aa> in baa, unusually <aCe> in vase, along with the letter name R. The /aɪ/ diphthong is most often spelled <iCe> as in bike, but there is also <igh> as in fight, <uy> in buy and <ai> in Thai, along with the letter name I. Notice the occurrence of the homograph sake contrasted with psyche.
This contrast is between a long vowel and a diphthong. The starting tongue positions are fairly close but confusions are not very common.
There are two sets of pairs involving a taboo word: arse/ice and fart/fight.
Interesting pairs include:
The density value is 3.53%. The pairs make 76 semantic contrasts, giving a loading of 52.1%.
ah I arm I'm arse ice arses ices baa buy baaing buying baas buys baa'd bide barbel Bible barbels Bibles bark bike barked biked barking biking barks bikes barn bine barns bines blah Bligh Calne kine cart kite carts kites Chard chide charm chime charmed chimed charming chiming charms chimes dark dike darn dine darned dined darning dining darns dines fa fie fart fight farting fighting farts fights guard guide guarded guided guarding guiding guards guides ha hi halve hive halved hived halves hives halving hiving hard hide hardbound hidebound hark hike harked hiked harking hiking harks hikes harness highness harnesses highnesses hart height harts heights heart height hearts heights hearten heighten heartened heightened heartening heightening heartens heightens la lie lakh like lakhs likes lard lied lark like larked liked larking liking larks likes larn line larned lined larning lining larns lines laugh life ma my mark mike marks mikes marl mile mart might mart mite marts mites martyr mitre martyrs mitres pa pi pa pie par pi par pie pars pies parr pi parr pie parrs pies park pike parks pikes parka pica rah rye remand remind remanded reminded remanding reminding remands reminds R I R's I's sake psyche scar sky scarred skied scars skies shah shy shahs shies shard shied smart smite smarting smiting smarts smites spa spy spar spy sparred spied spars spies spark spike sparked spiked sparking spiking sparks spikes sparse spice star sty stars sties starless stylus starling styling strafe strife ta Thai ta tie tar Thai tars Thais tar tie tarred tied tars ties tarred tide tardy tidy tardier tidier tardiest tidiest tardily tidily tardiness tidiness tarn tine tarns tines tart tight tarts tights tartly tightly tartness tightness tartan tighten tartans tightens tartar tighter vase vies
John Higgins, Shaftesbury, November 2009