The /d/ sound is spelled with <d>, and the /w/ sound with <w> or <wh>, and we also hear it in the irregular spellings one and once. Since /w/ can only occur at the start of the syllable in RP, all contrasts are initial or in one case medial. Notice how the partial homograph Wear/wear makes pairs with dare and dear and the homograph do pairs with woe and woo.
The contrast is between a voiced stop and a voiced semivowel, well separated in the mouth. It is not a problem for learners.
The only taboo word pairs is dank/wank.
Interesting pairs include:
The mean density value is 1.7%. The list makes 113 semantic distinctions, a loading of 57%.
adored award D we D wee D's wees dairy wary Dakar whacker dale wail dales wails dale whale dale whale dales Wales Dalton Walton Dane wain Danes wains Dane wane Danes wanes Dane Wayne dangle wangle dangled wangled dangles wangles dangling wangling dank wank dare ware dares wares dared wared daring waring dare wear dares wears daring wearing date wait dated waited dates waits dating waiting date weight dates weights dating weighting dated weighted dateless weightless daughter water daughters waters Dave waive Dave wave Davey wavy daw war daws wars dawn warn dawned warned dawning warning dawns warns day way days ways day weigh days weighs day whey daze ways daze weighs deacon weaken deacons weakens dead wed deadlock wedlock deal weal deals weals deal wheel dealing wheeling deals wheels dealt welt dear Wear dear weir dears weirs dearie weary dearies wearies deb web debs webs debt wet debts wets debtor wetter deed weed deeds weeds deft weft deign wain deigns wains deing wane deigns wanes deigned waned deigning waning dell well dells wells delta welter deltas welters den wen dens wens dense whence dent went dhow wow dhows wows Di Y Di why diary wiry Dick Wick die Y dies Y's die why died wide diesel weasel diesels weasels dig Whig digs Whigs dig wig digs wigs digging wigging diggings wiggings dill will dim whim dims whims dimple wimple dimples wimples dine whine dined whined dines whines dining whining diner whiner diners whiners dine wine dined wined dines wines dining wining dip whip dipped whipped dips whips dire wire dirk work dirks works dirt wert disc whisk discs whisks dish wish dishes wishes dishing wishing dished wished ditch which ditches witches ditching witching dither whither dither wither dithered withered dithering withering dithers withers ditty witty dive wive dives wives do whoa do woe do woo do's woos doing wooing doe whoa doe woe does woes doer wooer doers wooers doffed waft doled wold dollar wallah dollars wallahs dollop wallop dollops wallops Dolly Wally don wan done one done won donkey wonky donned wand don't won't doom womb dooms wombs door war doors wars Doric Warwick Dorking walking dormer warmer dormers warmers dot watt dottle wattle dottles wattles downed wound dun one duns ones dun won dunce once durst worst dye Y dyes Y's dye why dyer wire dyers wires midday midway someday someway
John Higgins, Shaftesbury, March 2010.