Minimal Pair List Vowels 9 and 11, /u/ versus /3/ 85 pairs

The /u/ vowel is usually spelled <oo>, <u>, <o> after <w> in womb and who , and occurs in the letter name U . The /3/ vowel is spelled <ur>, <ir>, <er> and <or> after <w> in worm . The two sounds together form the expression of surprise associated with schoolboy fiction and with the comedian Frankie Howerd, "Oo-er!"

This is a contrast between two long vowels, fairly close in the mouth but distinguished by lip-rounding. It is not a problem for any group of learners.

Interesting pairs include:

booty Bertie
lunar learner
suture searcher
tootle turtle

The density figure is 2.76%. The set makes 41 semantic contrasts giving a loading of 48.2%.

blue blur
  blued blurred
  blues blurs
boo burr
  boos burrs
booed bird
boon burn
  boons burns
boost burst
  boosting bursting
  boosts bursts
booty Bertie
booze burrs
chute shirt
  chutes shirts
cooed curd
cool curl
  cooled curled
  cooling curling
  cools curls
cooler curler
  coolers curlers
coolie curly
coo cur
  coos curs
coot curt
flute flirt
  fluted flirted
  flutes flirts
  fluting flirting
fool furl
  fooled furled
  fooling furling
  fools furls
ghoul girl
ghouls girls
  ghoulish girlish
hoot hurt
  hooting hurting
loon learn
  loons learns
Luke lurk
lunar learner
mooses mercies
noose nurse
  noosed nursed
  nooses nurses
  noosing nursing
ooze errs
pool pearl
  pooled pearled
  pooling pearling
  pools pearls
school skirl
  schools skirls
scoot skirt
  scooted skirted
  scooting skirting
  scoots skirts
shoot shirt
  shooting shirting
  shoots shirts
slew slur
  slewed slurred
  slews slurs
sou sir
  sous sirs
spoon spurn
  spooned spurned
  spooning spurning
  spoons spurns
suture searcher
  sutures searchers
tootle turtle
  tootles turtles
U's years
who'd heard
who'll hurl
who's hers
womb worm
  wombs worms
woo were
woo whirr
  wooed whirred
  woos whirrs