Consonants /f/ versus //, 46 pairs     [feethee.html]

The /f/ sound is spelled with <f> or <ff>. The // sound is spelled <th> throughout.

The contrast is between a voiceless labio-dental and a voiced dental and alveolar fricative. The sounds are fairly similar but the // sound occurs in so few words other than function words that there is little confusion. I have left out the pairs in which a word contrasts with a contracted form such as fade/they'd or fats/that's, since they are most unlikely to cause problems.

The mean density value is 1%. The list makes 29 semantic distinctions, a loading of 63%.

 	
brief breathe 
  briefing breathing 
  briefed breathed
  briefs breathes
briefer breather 
differ dither
  differed dithered
  differing dithering
  differs dithers
fair their
  fairs theirs
fair there
fare their
  fares theirs
fare there  
fat that
fee thee
fem them
fen then
fence thence
fey they
fie thy
fine thine
foe though
foes those
fuss thus
gaffer gather
  gaffers gathers
heifer heather 
  heifers heathers 
life lithe
loaf loathe
  loafing loathing
  loafs loathes
  loafed loathed
reef wreathe
  reefing wreathing
  reefs wreathes
  reefed wreathed
rife writhe
sheaf sheathe	  
  sheafs sheathes
Suffolk Southwark 
whiff with

John Higgins, Shaftesbury, October 2010.