Consonant // versus null, 67 pairs     [tho_owe.html]

The // sound is spelled with <th> or <the>. Notice how owe appears twice, in the plural contrasting with oaths and in the singular with though.

As // is fairly rare, only occurring in 593 words in the dictionary, this was an easy list to work out manually. The contrast is not a source of difficulty where it occurs at the start of the syllable, but is much harder when syllable-final, even for native speakers.

The density value is 11.3%. The list makes 49 semantic distinctions, a loading of 73%.

 	
bathe bay	 
  bathes bays  
  bathed bayed
bathe bey
  bathes beys
baths baas
baths bars
blithe Bligh
booths boos
booths booze
breathes breeze
burthen burn
  burthens burns
clothes close
Hythe hi
Hythe high  
lathe lay
  lathes lays
lithe lie
loathe low
  loathes lows
  loathing lowing
Lytham limb
oaths owes
paths parse
paths parse
rhythm rim
  rhythms rims
scythed side
scythes sighs
scythes size
seethe sea
  seethes seas
seethe see    
  seethes sees
  seething seeing
seethed seed      
sheathe she
soothe Sue
swathe sway
  swathes sways
teethe tea
  teethes teas
teethe tee
  teethes tees
  teething teeing
  theethed teed
than Ann
that at
their air
  theirs airs
their heir	 
  theirs heirs
their ere
there e'er
their Ays
them em
then en
these ease  
though owe
thus us
thy eye
thy I
truths trews
writhe rye
writhe wry
youths use

John Higgins, Shaftesbury, December 2010.