Minimal Pair List Consonants /s/ versus /z/, 281 pairs
The /s/ sound is spelled with <s>, <ss> or <ce>. The /z/ sound is spelled with <s>, <se> or <z>. Seventeen of the pairs are homographs arising from using voicing to turn a noun into a verb as in abuse/abuse . Other common patterns are pairings with an -ous adjective ending and an - ers agent-noun plural such as solicitous/solicitors , and an -ess feminine suffix paired with an -ies abstract noun plural, such as sorceress/sorceries .
This is a contrast between two sibilants distinguished only by voicing. It is a known source of difficulty for Scandinavian, Dutch and German learners, and may cause problems elsewhere.
Taboo word pairs include arse/R's .
Some questions arise about syllable counts. How minimal are the pairs pious/pyres or sharpness/sharpeners , both of which were identified by the algrithm?
The mean density value is 1.2%. The list makes 207 semantic distinctions, a loading of 74%.
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