This list includes a number of homographs, the adjective and adverb pair cleanly, the verb and noun pair lead, and the present and past of the verb read with its derivatives lip-read, misread, proof-read and re-read There are several other cases of the /i/ versus /e/ distinction being used to signal present versus past of a verb, namely bleed/bled, breed/bred, feed/fed, feel/fell, plead/pled, and speed/sped, but in those cases we also see a change in the spelling. The strong verb eat/ate could also be included in this set, but this case is complicated by the existence of an alternative spelling-pronunciation for ate as /eɪt/. In the case of leaped/leapt we have differences of sound and spelling but not of meaning. Are they a minimal pair?
The /i/ vowel is commonly spelled with <ee>, <ea>, <ie> as in mien, niece and yield, <eCe> as in cede,
The fact that /i/ is normally long and /e/ short helps to reduce the difficulty of distinguishing this pair, though it may still cause trouble especially for speakers of syllable-timed languages. Speakers of Arabic and some languages of the Indian sub-continent may have problems. All speakers, however, may have problems with unfamiliar words simply because of the overlap in the spellings. A word like sweater is very likely to be pronounced /`switә/ at the first encounter.The pairs that seem most interesting include:
There is a slight potential for embarrassment with the pair seeks/sex.
The mean density is 3.9%. The semantic loading is 64%.
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Geographical: Apart from the English-speaking countries most visitors are from Hong Kong, Philippines, Spain, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Malaysia, Turkey, Venezuela, Denmark, South Korea, Indonesia, Jordan, France, Poland and India. Average 82 visitors per month.
John Higgins, Shaftesbury, January 2011.