The /z/ sound is spelled with <z>, <zz>, <s> or <se>. The /l/ sound is spelled with <l>, <ll> or <le>. There are several pairs which contrast /z/ with a syllabic /l/ such as approves/approval. I have left them in although their status is doubtful, since the syllable count is different. The problem is brought out by the set bows/bowers/bowel. Which two of those three constitute the minimal pair? The program picket out bowers/bowel, but this seems at variance with its behaviour elsewhere. There is also some doubt about the status of the pairs ideas/ideal and rears/real, since many speakers use different vowel sounds. Notice how the homograph does makes pairs with dole and dull.
This is a contrast between a sibilant fricative and a lateral continuant, both in the alveolar region of the mouth and both voiced. It is not a problem, although the /l/ sound may be troublesome for some learners.
The only mildly taboo word pair is wees/wheel.
Interesting pairs include:
The mean density value is 1.5%. The list makes 260 semantic distinctions, a loading of 81%.
appease appeal appeased appealed appeasing appealing approves approval Arabs arable areas aerial arrives arrival A's ail as Al assays assail auras aural Aussie Ollie awes all awes awl baize bail baize bale bays bail bays bale beaux bole beys bail beys bale betrayers betrayal biz Bill boars ball boos buhl bores ball bows bowl bowers bowel boys boil braes braille braise Braille busy Billy busies billies buys bile byes bile Caesar sealer cancers cancel cars Carl cause call caused called causing calling caws call chaise shale coos cool Cowes cowl cows cowl crores crawl C's seal curds curdle curs curl daisy daily daisies dailies days dale daze dale defies defile Des dell does dole does dull dowers dowel doze dole dozing doling dozed doled drawers drawl D's deal dyers dial ease eel easing Ealing easy Ely errs earl E's eel ewes Yule ewers Ewell excise exile eyes aisle eyes isle fees feel fez fell fires phial firs furl fizz fill fizzed filled fizzes fillies fizzing filling fizzy filly flays flail foes foal fours fall frays frail frizz frill frizzed frilled frizzy frilly frizzier frillier frizziest frilliest gauze gall gauze Gaul gays Gael gays gale gaze Gael gaze gale goes goal gores gall gores Gaul grays grail graze grail guise guile guys guile has Hal haws hall haze hail hazed hailed hazing hailing haze hale hazing Hayling hers hurl his hill hoes hole hose hole hosed holed hosing holing hoses holies hosier holier house howl housed howled housing howling ideas ideal informs informal interns internal intestines intestinal I's aisle I's isle is ill Jews joule J's gaol keys keel knees kneel knees Neil knows knoll K's kail lies lisle Lizzy Lily Lyons Lionel margins marginal Mars marl maws maul maxims maximal Mays mail Mays male maize mail maize male meridians meridional mews mule minims minimal miser miler misers milers mows mole muse mule neighs nail news newel newsy newly noes knoll nose knoll ores all ores awl organizations organizational overawes overall parses parleys pause Paul pasties pastille pause pall paused palled pausing palling paws Paul paws pall pays pail pays pale peepers peepul pews pule phase fail phased failed phasing failing pies pile pose pole posing poling posed poled pose poll posing polling posed polled poser polar pros prole prose prole prows prowl purrs pearl quays keel quiz quill raise rail raised railed raising railing rays rail rears real rectors rectal regions regional removers removal resent relent resented relented resenting relenting resents relents reside relied retinas retinal retrievers retrieval revise revile revised reviled revising reviling revives revival rise rile rising riling rose rôle rose roll rues rule ruse rule says cell scissors Scyllas scows scowl seas seal sees seal seize seal seized sealed seizing sealing seizing ceiling sews Seoul sews soul sews sole shores shawl shows shoal sirrahs Cyril sows Seoul sows soul sows sole squaws squall squeeze squeal squeezed squealed squeezer squealer squeezing squealing squeezers squealers stays stale sties stile sties style stores stall stows stole survives survival Swansea Swanley swiz swill tammies Tamil tawse tall teas teal tees teal Thais tile ties tile toes toll towers towel toys toil trays trail triers trial T's teal twos tool U's Yule vies vile virgins virginal visage village visages villages visor viler V's veal wars wall ways wail wees weal wees wheel weighs wail wheeze weal wheeze wheel wheezing wheeling wheezed wheeled wheezed weald whirrs whirl whiz will whizzed willed whizzes willies whizzing willing whores hall whys while wise while yaws yawl Y's while Z lead Z's leads Z led zap lap zapped lapped zapping lapping zaps laps zee Leigh zee lea zees leas zee lee zees zeal Zen Len zest lest zinc link zing ling Zion lion zip lip zipped lipped zips lips zone loan zoned loaned zones loans zoning loaning zoo lieu zoo loo zoos loos zoom loom zoomed loomed zooming looming zooms looms
John Higgins, Shaftesbury, November 2010.