Consonants /m/ versus /w/, 203 pairs     [magwag.html]

The /m/ sound is spelled with <m> or <mm>. The /w/ sound is spelled with <w> or <wh> and is heard in the letter name Y. Notice how the homograph wound makes pairs with mooned and mound.

This is a contrast between a nasal continuant and a semivowel, both voiced and in the bilabial region of the mouth. The contrast only occurs initially or medially. It is a slight problem for Spanish speakers.

Interesting pairs include:

major wager
mangle wangle
mirthless worthless

The mean density value is 2.2%. The lists make 107 semantic distinctions, a loading of 53%.

mac whack	
  macs whacks
made wade
mag wag
  mags wags
maid wade
  maids wades
mail wail
  mailed wailed
  mailing wailing
  mails wails  
mail whale
  mails whales
mails Wales 
mails whales
Maine Wayne
Maine wain
main wain
  mains wains
main Wayne
major wager
  majored wagered
  majoring wagering
  majors wagers
make wake
  makes wakes
  making waking
male wail
  males wails
male whale
males whales  
males Wales
mall wall
  malls walls
mangle wangle
  mangled wangled
  mangles wangles
  mangling wangling
Manx wanks
mare ware 
  mares wares
mare wear 
  mares wears
Mary wary
mate wait
  mated waited
  mates waits
  mating waiting
mate weight
  mated weighted
  mates weights
  mating weighting
matey weighty
Maud ward
maul wall
  mauled walled
  mauling walling
  mauls walls
mauve wove
maw war
  maws wars
Max whacks
Max wax
May way
  Mays ways
mayor ware 
  mayors wares
me we
mean wean
  meaning weaning
  means weans
meanie weeny
meant went
Med wed
meek weak
  meeker weaker
  meekest weakest
  meekly weakly
  meekness weakness
meek week
melt welt
melts welts
men wen
mend wend
  mended wended
  mending wending
  mends wends
mere Wear 
mere weir
  meres weirs
merry wherry
messed west
met wet
Mick Wick
might Wight 
might white
mild whiled
mild wild
  milder wilder
  mildest wildest
  mildly wildly
mile while
  miles whiles
mile wile
  miles wiles
Millie Willie
milt wilt
mince wince
  minced winced
  minces winces
  mincing wincing
mind whined
mind wined
mind wind
  minding winding
  minds winds
mine whine
  mines whines
  mining whining
  mined whined
mine wine
  mined wined
  mines wines
  mining wining
mined wind  
miner whiner
  miners whiners
mink wink
  minks winks
minnow winnow
  minnows winnows
mire wire
  mired wired
  mires wires
  miring wiring
miry wiry
  mirier wirier
  miriest wiriest
mirthless worthless
misc whisk
miser wiser
missal whistle
  missals whistles
missed whist
mist whist
mite Wight
mite white
  mites whites
mitre whiter
Mo whoa
Mo woe
Mod wad
  Mods wads
mode woad
model waddle
  modelled waddled
  models waddles
  modelling waddling
moke woke
Mold wold
Molly Wally
moo woo
  mooing wooing
  moos woos
  mooed wooed
mood wooed  
mooned wound
mop whop
  mopped whopped
  mopping whopping
  mops whops
more war
Morley Warley
morn warn
  morns warns
  morning warning
  mornings warnings
mortar water
  mortared watered
  mortaring watering
  mortars waters
mottle wattle
  mottles wattles
mould wold
  moulds wolds
mound wound
mourn warn
  mourned warned
  mourns warns
  mourning warning
mow wow	 
  mows wows
mow woe
  mows woes
mowed woad
murk work
my Y 
myrrh were
smarmy swami
smell swell
  smelled swelled
  smelling swelling
  smells swells

John Higgins, Shaftesbury, December 2010.