The spellings of /i/, as well as the common <ee> and <ea>, here include the unusual <eo> in people and <ei> in conceit. We also see <i> in the proper name Tina. /з/ is normally spelled <ur> or <ir>, and we also see <er> in sterling, <our> in journey, <or> in world, and <ear> in earl.
A few learners may have problems, though in general the difference in tongue height is enough to keep these two vowels clearly distinguished.
Two mildly taboo word pairs are pee/purr and wee/whir.
Interesting pairs include:
femur firmerThe density value is 6.4%. The 298 pairs make 160 semantic contrasts, giving a semantic loading of 54%.
B bur B's burs B burr B's burrs be bur be burr beach birch beached birched beaches birches beaching birching bead bird beads birds beagle burgle beagles burgles beagling burgling beak burke beaks burkes bean Bern bean burn beans burns beano Brno beast burst beasts bursts beat Bert beaten burton bee bur bees burs bee burr bees burrs beech birch beeches birches been Bern been burn beep burp beeps burps beet Bert Beith berth Beith birth bleat blurt bleated blurted bleating blurting bleats blurts bleed blurred C sir C's sirs cede surd cedes surds Celia surlier cheap chirp cheep chirp cheeped chirped cheeping chirping cheeps chirps chic shirk conceit concert conceited concerted conceits concerts conceive conserve conceived conserved conceives conserves conceiving conserving Dives divers E err E's errs E ugh ease errs eel earl eels earls e'en earn e'en urn eke irk eked irked ekes irks eking irking Ely early feast first feasts firsts fee fir fees firs fee fur fees furs fees furze feel furl feeling furling feels furls femur firmer fever fervour field furled fleet flirt fleeting flirting fleets flirts genie journey genies journeys he her heal hurl healed hurled healing hurling heals hurls heat hurt heating hurting heats hurts heats hertz heed heard heed herd heeded herded heeding herding heeds herds heel hurl heeled hurled heeling hurling heels hurls Jeanie journey keel curl keeled curled keeling curling keels curls key cur keys curs keyed curd leach lurch leached lurched leaches lurches leaching lurching leak lurk leaked lurked leaking lurking leaks lurks lean learn leaned learned leaner learner leaning learning leans learns leech lurch leeches lurches leek lurk leeks lurks me myrrh Meath mirth meek murk mi myrrh Nice nurse niece nurse nieces nurses OT hauteur P per P purr P's purrs pea per pea purr peace purse peach perch peached perched peaches perches peaching perching peak perk peaked perked peaking perking peaks perks peaky perky peakier perkier peakiest perkiest peal pearl pealed pearled pealing pearling peals pearls peal purl pealed purled pealing purling peals purls peas purrs pease purrs peat pert pee per pee purr peed purred pees purrs peek perk peeked perked peeking perking peeks perks peel pearl peeled pearled peeling pearling peels pearls peel purl peeled purled peeling purling peels purls peke perk pekes perks Peking perking people purple peoples purples Pete pert piece purse pieced pursed pieces purses piecing pursing pique perk piqued perked piques perks piquing perking quay cur quays curs queen quern queens querns sea sir seas sirs seaman sermon seamen sermon seat cert seats certs see sir sees sirs seed surd seeds surds seeker circa seize sirs semen sermon sheet shirt sheeting shirting sheets shirts siege serge siege surge sieges surges skeet skirt skeets skirts speed spurred stealing sterling stealing Stirling steed stirred steeling sterling steeling Stirling teak Turk team term teamed termed teaming terming teams terms teed turd teem term teemed termed teeming terming teems terms teen tern teens terns teen turn teens turns teeny tourney theme therm themes therms Tina turner twee 'twere unfeeling unfurling venal vernal Vigo Virgo we were we whir weak work weaker worker weal whirl weals whirls weal whorl weals whorls weald whirled weald whorled weald world wealds worlds wee were wee whir wees whirs weed whirred weed word weeded worded weeding wording weeds words weedy wordy weedier wordier weediest wordiest week work weeks works weekday workday weekdays workdays wheat wert wheel whirl wheeling whirling wheeled whirled wheels whirls wheel whorl wheeled whorled wheels whorls wheeled world wheeze whirrs wheeze whirs wield whirled wield whorled wield world wields worlds ye year
John Higgins, Shaftesbury, January 2011.