The /ɔ/ vowel is usually spelled <or>, <our>, <oar>, <au>, <aw>, and <ar> after <w> in war. The /eə/ diphthong is spelled <are>, <air>, <ear>, and <ea> in yeah. Note how in the case of bear/bore and swear/swore the contrast signals only a tense change.
This is a contrast between a long vowel and a diphthong. The starting positions are a long way apart there is no risk of confusion.
Interesting pairs include:
Since /eə/ is a relatively uncommon phoneme, the density figure is one of the highest at 17.46%. The set makes 94 semantic contrasts giving a loading of 56%.
afore affair Audrey Airdrie awe air awed aired awes airs awe Ayr awe heir awe ere bawd bared boar bare boars bares boar bear boars bears bore bare bored bared boring baring bores bares bore bear bores beras boring bearing board bared borer barer borers bearers born bairn borne bairn bourn bairn cause cares caw care caws cares cawed cared chaw chair chawed chaired chaws chairs chore chair chores chairs core care coring caring cores cares corn cairn corns cairns daunt daren't daw dare daws dares door dare doors dares dory dairy dories dairies Fawley fairly flaw flare flawed flared flaws flares flaw flair flaws flairs floor flair floor flare floors flares flooring flaring floored flared for fair for fare fore fair fore fare four fair fours fairs four fare fours fares forbore forbear ford fared foreground fairground foregrounds fairgrounds foreswore foreswear gnaw ne'er haw hair haws hairs haw hare hawed hared haw Herr hoar hair hoar hare hoar Herr hoary hairy hoarier hairier hoariest hairiest hoariness hairiness laud laird lauds lairds law lair laws lairs lor lair lord laird lords lairds lore lair maw mare maws mares more mare nor ne'er o'er air o'er ere o'er heir o'er Ayr orally airily oration aeration orations aerations oriel aerial oriels aerials overbore overbear pause pairs pause pears paw pair pawed paired paws pairs paw pear paws pears pore pair poring pairing pores pairs pored paired pore pear pores pears pour pair pours pairs pouring pairing poured paired pour pear pours pears raw rare roar rare roaring raring score scare scored scared scores scares scoring scaring shore share shored shared shores shares shoring sharing snore snare snored snared snores snares snoring snaring spore spare spores spares squally squarely squaw square squaws squares store stair stores stairs store stare stored stared storing staring stores stares swore swear tawse tares tor tare tors tares tore tare war ware wars wares war wear warring wearing wars wears ward wared whore hair whores hairs whore hare whores hares whore Herr yaw yeah
John Higgins, Shaftesbury, December 2009