Consonants /t/ versus //, 78 pairs     [tiethy.html]

The spelling of /t/ is usually <t>, <te> or <tt>, but we also often see <ght> in sight. The // sound is <th> or <the>. I have included plural pairs sich as baits/bathes, even though they are not strictly minimal, on the grounds discussed under "Problems" in the main article.

The contrast is between a voiceless plosive and a voiced fricative, close together in the mouth. The fact that // does not occur in many languages makes it a problem for some learners.

This contrast is memorably exploited by Lewis Carroll in Alice in Wonderland when the Mock Turtle describes his school subjects as "Reeling and Writhing, ... Ambition, Distraction, Uglification, and Derision" (reading and writing, addition, subtraction multiplication and division).

One taboo word pair is farting/farthing.

Interesting pairs include:

nitre neither
pretty prithee
skating scathing

The mean density value is 0.5%. The list makes 48 semantic distinctions, a loading of 62%.

bait bathe
  baiting bathing
  baits bathes
blight blithe
boot booth	 
  boots booths
cite scythe
  citing scything
  cites scythes
farting farthing 
fetter feather 
  fettered feathered 
  fettering feathering 
  fetters faethers
height Hythe 
late lathe
letter leather 
  letters leathers 
  lettering leathering
  lettered leathered
letterhead Leatherhead 
light lithe
lout Louth 
mutter mother 
  muttered mothered 
  muttering mothering 
  mutters mothers 
nitre neither 
potter pother 
  potters pothers 
pretty prithee
right writhe
  righting writhing
  rights writhes
rite writhe		
  rites writhes
seat seethe
  seating seething
  seats seethes
sheet sheathe 
  sheeting sheathing 	 
  sheets sheathes
sight scythe
  sights scythes
  sighting scything
site scythe
  sites scythes
skating scathing 
suit soothe    
  suits soothes
T thee
tail they'll
tare their
  tares theirs
tat that
tats that's
tattered that'd
tattle that'll
teat teethe
  teats teethes
ten then
tense thence
tie thy 
tight tithe
  tights tithes
tine thine
to the 
toe though
toes those 
tow though
tows those
T's these
Tyne thine
utter other 
  utters others 
wetter weather 
whit with
witty withy 

John Higgins, Shaftesbury, February 2010.