Minimal Pair List Vowels 8 and 9, /ʊ/ versus /u/ 18 pairs

   Minimal pair: Vowels 8 and 9, /ʊ/ versus /u/ 18 pairs

The /ʊ/ vowel is spelled <u>, <oo>, <ou> in could and <oe> in the loan word stoep . The /u/ vowel is spelled <oo>, <u> or <ui> in suit . For many speakers the word suit contains a palatal glide which would make in non-minimal in its various contrasts.

This is a recognised problem for speakers of French, Spanish, Farsi, Turkish, Swahili and probably many others, but with so few minimal pairs, it is not very important. There are also native-speaker accents which conflate these sounds. Many Scottish speakers, for instance, do not have two phonemes in this position.

Interesting pairs include:

looker lucre

The density figure is 0.92%. The set makes 11 semantic contrasts giving a loading of 61.1%.

bull buhl 
could cooed 
full fool 
hood who'd 
looker lucre 
look Luke 
pull pool 
   pulled pooled 
   pulling pooling 
   pulls pools 
should shooed 
soot suit 
  sooted suited 
  sooting suiting 
  soots suits 
stoep stoop 
  stoeps stoops 
wood wooed