Vowels 1 and 17, /i/ and /əʊ/    518 pairs     [eastoast.html]

The vowel /i/ is represented by the usual <ee> and <ea> spellings, as well as the letter names B, C, D, E, P and T, the musical note names mi and ti, <ei> in the proper names Beith, Neil and Rheims, <ie> in field and wield, and <iCV> in Rita and clique. The /əʊ/ diphthong is most often <oCe> or <ow>, but also appears as <eau> in beau, <oa> in boat, <oh> in the musical notes doh and soh, <oCC> in wold, <oe> in floe, and exceptionally as <oo> in brooch. There is also the <ew> spelling in shew and sew. In the case of shew, I have treated this as equivalent to show and omitted pairs which were due only to this homophonic spelling.

Three pairs arise from the plural/singular distinction in Italian loan-words: grafitti/graffito, libretti/libretto, and virtuosi/virtuoso.

The two sounds are so far apart that they could hardly ever create a problem for learners.

Interesting pairs include:

appease oppose
conceal console
eager ogre
egress ogress
evil oval
neatest noticed
undersealed undersold

The mean density is high at 12.2%. The density of pairs among the /əʊ/ words is particularly high at 24.7%. In other words almost a quarter of all the words which contain /əʊ/ have a pair with /i/. There are 309 semantic distinctions, giving a semantic loading of 59%.

appease oppose
  appeased opposed
  appeases opposes
  appeasing opposing
B beau
  B's beaux
B bo
B bow
  B's bows
be beau
be bo
be bow
  being bowing
bead bode
  beading boding
  beads bodes
bead bowed
bean bone
  beans bones
beast boast
  beasts boasts
beat boat
  beater boater
  beaters boaters
  beating boating
  beats boats
bee beau
  bees beaux
bee bo
bee bow
  bees bows
been bone
beet boat
  beets boats
Beith both
bespeak bespoke
beta boater
  betas boaters
bleak bloke
bleat bloat
  bleated bloated
bleed blowed
breach broach
  breached broached
  breaches broaches
  breaching broaching
breach brooch
  breaches brooches
breech broach
  breeches broaches
breech brooch
  breeches brooches
C sew
  C's sews
C so
C soh
C sow
  C's sows
cedar soda
cede sewed
cede sowed
ceiling soling
cheek choke
  cheeked choked
  cheeking choking
  cheeks chokes
cheeky chokey
cheese chose
clean clone
  cleans clones
cleave clove
  cleaves cloves
cleaver clover
clique cloak
  cliques cloaks
conceal console
  concealed consoled
  concealing consoling
  conceals consoles
creak croak
  creaked croaked
  creaking croaking
  creaks croaks
cream chrome
creed crowed
creek croak
  creeks croaks
D do
D doe
  D's does
D doh
  D's dohs
D dough
D's doze
deal dole
  dealing doling
  deals doles
deem dome
  deemed domed
  deems domes
deep dope
  deeps dopes
deep-freeze deep-froze
E's O's
E oh
E owe
  E's owes
eager ogre
eagle ogle
  eagles ogles
ease O's
ease owes
easier osier
east oast
eat oat
  eats oats
eaves oaves
e'en own
egress ogress
  egresses ogresses
eke oak
  ekes oaks
Eva ova
Eva over
eves oaves
evil oval
  evils ovals
evilly overly
fee foe
  fees foes
feel foal
  feeling foaling
  feels foals
field foaled
field fold
  fielded folded
  fielder folder
  fielders folders
  fielding folding
  fields folds
fiend phoned
flea floe
  fleas floes
flea flow
   fleas flows
flee floe
  flees floes
flee flow
  fleeing flowing
  flees flows
fleet float
  fleets floats
fleeting floating
free fro
frees froze
freeze froze
frieze froze
G Joe
gee Joe
gene Joan
genie Joanie
ghee go
Gina Jonah
gleaming gloaming
glebe globe
  glebes globes
glee glow
  glees glows
graffiti graffito
grease gross
  greased grossed
  greases grosses
  greasing grossing
greaser grocer
  greasers grocers
greaves groves
green groan
  greens groans
green grown
greet groat
  greets groats
grieve grove
  grieves groves
grippe grope
  grippes gropes
he ho
he hoe
heal hole
  healed holed
  healing holing
  heals holes
heal whole
  heals wholes
healed hold
heap hope 
  heaped hoped
  heaping hoping
  heaps hopes
heave hove
heed hoed
heel hole
  heeled holed
  heeling holing
  heels holes
heel whole
heels wholes
heeled hold
infield enfold
interweave interwove
jean Joan
Jeanie Joanie
keel coal 
  keeled coaled 
  keeling coaling 
  keels coals 
keel kohl
keeled cold
keen cone
  keened coned 
  keening coning 
  keens cones 
keep cope 
  keeping coping 
  keeps copes 
key Co 
keyed code 
knead node
  kneads nodes
knee know
  knees knows
knee no
  knees nos
kneel knoll
  kneels knolls
knees nose
lea low
  leas lows
lead load
  leader loader
  leaders loaders
  leading loading
  leads loads
lead lode
  leads lodes
lead lowed
leaf loaf
  leafed loafed
  leafing loafing
  leafs loafs
lean loan
  leaned loaned
  leaning loaning
  leans loans
lean lone
leap lope
  leaped loped
  leaping loping
  leaps lopes
leaves loaves
lee low
  lees lows
Leeds loads
Leeds lodes
Leigh low
libretti libretto
lieder loader
lief loaf
me mo 
me mow
mead mode
  meads modes
mead mowed
meal mole
  meals moles
mean moan
  meaning moaning
  means moans
mean mown
meat moat
  meats moats
meat mote
meats motes
meed mode
  meeds modes
meed mowed
meek moke
meet moat
  meets moats
meet mote
  meets motes
mete moat
  meted moated
  metes moats
mete mote
  metes motes
meter motor
  meters motors
metre motor
  metres motors
mi mo
mi mow
mien moan
  miens moans
mien mown
neap nope
neat note
neatest noticed
need node
  needs nodes
Neil knoll
oversee oversew
  overseeing oversewing
  overseen oversewn
overseas oversews
P's pose
peach poach
  peached poached
  peaches poaches
  peaching poaching
peak poke
  peaked poked
  peaking poking
  peaks pokes
peaky poky
  peakier pokier
  peakiest pokiest
peal pole 
  peals poles
peal poll
  pealed polled
  pealing polling
  peals polls
peas pose
pease pose
peek poke
  peeked poked
  peeking poking
  peeks pokes
peel pole
  peels poles
peel poll
  peeled polled
  peeling polling
  peels polls
peeler polar
peep Pope 
peeps Popes 
pees pose
peke poke
  pekes pokes
Peking poking
pieced post
pique poke
  piqued poked
  piques pokes
  piquing poking
Pisa poser
pre- pro-
preen prone
quay Co
quick-freeze quick-froze
re roe
re row
reach roach
  reaches roaches
read road
  reads roads
read rode
read rowed
ream roam
  reams roams
ream Rome 
reap rope
  reaped roped
  reaping roping
  reaps ropes
reed road
  reeds roads
reed rode
reed rowed
reel role 
  reels roles 
reel roll
  reeled rolled
  reeling rolling
  reels rolls
reeve rove
  reeves roves
Rheims roams
Rita rota
Rita rotor
scene sewn
scene sown
sea sew
  seas sews
sea so
sea soh
sea sow
  seas sows
seal Seoul
seal sole
  sealed soled
  sealing soling
  seals soles
seal soul
  seals souls
sealed sold
sealer solar
see sew
  seeing sewing
  seen sewn
  sees sews
see so
see soh
see sow
  seeing sowing
  seen sown
  sees sows
seed sewed
seed sowed
seek soak
  seeker soaker
  seekers soakers
  seeking soaking
  seeks soaks
seep soap
  seeped soaped
  seeping soaping
  seeps soaps
seize sews
seize sows
sepia soapier
she show
sheen shown
shield shoaled
Sikh soak
  Sikhs soaks
sleep slope
  sleeping sloping
  sleeps slopes
sneeze snows
speak spoke
  speaks spokes
speed Spode 
steal stole
  steals stoles
steed stowed
steel stole
  steels stoles
Steve stove
streak stroke
  streaked stroked
  streaking stroking
  streaks strokes
T toe
  T's toes
T tow
  T's tows
tea toe
  teas toes
tea tow
  teas tows
teak toque
teal toll
team tome
  teams tomes
tease toes
tease tows
teat tote
  teats totes
tee toe
  teed toed
  teeing toeing
  tees toes
tee tow
  teed towed
  teeing towing
  tees tows
teed toad
teem tome
  teems tomes
teen tone
  teens tones
teeny Tony 
tempi tempo
thee though
these those
three throe
  threes throes
three throw
  threes throws
ti toe
ti tow
undersealed undersold
unsealed unsold
veal vole
virtuosi virtuoso
we whoa
we woe
we'd woad
we've wove
weak woke
  weaken woken
weald wold
  wealds wolds
weave wove
wee whoa
wee woe
weed woad
week woke
wees woes
wheeled wold
wheeze woes
wield wold
  wields wolds
wreath wroth
Geographical: Outside English-speaking countries, most visitors are from Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong, Ecuador, Jordan, South Korea, Vietnam, India, Spain, Turkey, Philippines, Germany, Ghana, Libya, Yemen and Thailand. Average 20 visitors per month.

John Higgins, Shaftesbury, January 2011.