Vowels 3 and 8, /e/ versus /ʊ/    50 pairs      [wedwood.html]

The /e/ vowel is spelled <e>, or <ea> in head. The vowel /ʊ/ is spelled with <u> or <oo> except for <ou> in should and <oe>in the loan word stoep.

Both vowels are short but are far enough apart for the distinction to cause no problems.

The mean density is 0.8%. The pairs make 24 semantic contrasts, giving a loading of 48%.

beck book
  becks books
bell bull
  bells bulls
belle bull
  belles bulls
belly bully
  bellied bullied
  bellies bullies
  bellying bullying
fell full
fetid footed
fetter footer
  fetters footers
head hood
  headed hooded
  heading hooding
  heads hoods
heck hook
  hecks hooks
Maidenhead maidenhood
neck nook
  necks nooks
pellet pullet
  pellets pullets
pet put
  petting putting
  pets puts
recce rookie
  recces rookies
Rex rooks
set soot
  sets soots
  setting sooting
shed should
stead stood
step stoep
  steps stoeps
steppe stoep
  steppes stoeps
Tech took
wed wood
  wedded wooded
  weds woods
well wool
  wells wools
wreck rook 
  wrecked rooked 
  wrecking rooking 
  wrecks rooks
Geographical: Outside English-speaking countries, most visitors are from Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Ecuador, Turkey, Lithuania, Malaysia, Yemen and Spain. Average 10 visitors per month.

John Higgins, Shaftesbury, January 2011