Vowel /ɪ/ appears in its common spellings of <i>, <e> and <y>. Vowel /eɪ/ has a great many spellings included in this list, among them <aCe> as in drape, <ai> as in bait, <ei> in deign, <ay> in lays, the highly irregular <ao> in gaol, and in French loan words <et> as in bidet and <é> as in canapé. It is also there in the letter names A and H.
Although this contrast is between a short vowel and a diphthong, it is potentially a problem for speakers of languages which do not have an [eɪ] diphthong and replace it with a mid front vowel. This is a known problem for some Arabic speakers and Swahili speakers.
In most cases the contrast is made in the stressed syllable, but where it is not I doubt whether the distinction is always consistent. Magnet/magnate are close to being homophones, and the same might be true of parky/parquet and Sunday/sundae.
The homograph gill appears in the pairs gill/Gael and gill/gaol, one for each pronunciation of <g>.
The only taboo word confusion is piss/pace.
Interesting pairs include:
bootless bootlaceThe mean density is 1.5%. The list makes 192 semantic contrasts giving a loading of 52%.
Abbey abbé abbeys abbés abyss abase abysses abases bally ballet beady bidet bib babe bibs babes bicker baker bickers bakers bid bayed bill bail billed bailed billing bailing bills bails Billy Bailey billies baileys bin bane bit bait bits baits biz beys bootless bootlace brick brake bricked braked bricking braking bricks brakes brill braille caches cachets canopies canapés canopy canapé chin chain chins chains crick crake cricks crakes dill dale dim dame dims dames din Dane dins Danes din deign dinned deigned dinning deigning dins deigns divvy Davey dizzy daisy dizzies daisies djinn Jane drip drape dripped draped dripping draping drips drapes fill fail filled failed filling failing fillings failings fills fails fin fain fin feign Finn fain Finn feign Finns feigns firebrick firebreak firebricks firebreaks fisher fascia fishers fascias fissure fascia fissures fascias fit fate fits fates fit fête fits fêtes fitted fêted fitting fêting fit feat fits feats fix fakes fizz phase fizzed phased fizzes phases fizzing phasing flick flake flicked flaked flicking flaking flicks flakes forehead forayed forgive forgave forty forte forties fortes frill frail fritter freighter fritters freighters frizz frays frizz phrase frizzed phrased frizzes phrases frizzing phrasing frizzle phrasal gill Gael gills Gaels gill gaol gills gaols gillie gaily gin Jane give gave grid grade grids grades grill grail grills grails grille grail grilles grails grin grain grinned grained grins grains grip grape grips grapes grist graced grit grate grits grates gritted grated gritting grating gyms James gyp jape gyps japes hick hake hill hail hills hails his haze hissed haste hit hate hitting hating hits hates id aid ill ail ills ails is A's it eight itches H's kick cake kicked caked kicking caking kicks cakes kill kail kin cane kip cape kips capes kipper caper kippers capers kiss case kissed cased kisses cases kissing casing kit Kate Kitty Katie lick lake licks lakes limb lame limbed lamed limbs lames limn lame limning laming limned lamed limns lames list laced lit late litter later live lave lived laved lives laves living laving Liz lays Lizzy lazy Lymm lame Lynn lain magnet magnate magnets magnates Mick make mid made midden maiden middens maidens middies maydays middy mayday mill mail milled mailed milling mailing mills mails mill male mills males mingy mangy mingier mangier mingiest mangiest misgive misgave miss mace misses maces mitt mate mitts mates mix makes Ms Mays nil nail nip nape nips napes nipples Naples overly overlay parky parquet patty pâté patties pâtés pill pail pills pails pillar paler pillowed payload pin pain piss pace pissed paced pisses paces pissing pacing pit pate quick quake quicker Quaker quill quail quills quails quiver quaver quivered quavered quivering quavering quivers quavers rick rake ricked raked ricking raking ricks rakes rid raid ridding raiding rids raids ridge rage ridged raged ridges rages ridging raging rill rail rills rails rip rape ripped raped ripping raping rips rapes risen raisin riven raven river raver rivers ravers saches sashets scrip scrape scrips scrapes script scraped Scyllas sailors sedition sedation ship shape shipped shaped shipping shaping ships shapes shiver shaver shivers shavers sibyl sable sibyls sables sill sale sills sails skill scale skilled scaled skills scales skilly scaly skin skein skins skeins skit skate skits skates skitter skater skitters skaters slick slake slicks slakes slid sleighed slit slate slits slates slitting slating snick snake snicked snaked snicking snaking snicks snakes spick spake spin Spain spit spate spits spates S's essays stick stake sticking staking sticks stakes still stale stilled staled stiller staler stillest stalest stilling staling stillness staleness stills stales stipple staple stippled stapled stipples staples stippling stapling striven Strathaven Styx stakes Sunday sundae Sundays sundaes swiz sways syllable saleable thin thane thins thanes tick take ticking taking ticks takes ticker taker tickers takers tilde tailed till tail tilled tailed tilling tailing tills tails till tale tills tales tiller tailor tillers tailors Tim Thame tint taint tinted tainted tinting tainting tints taints tip tape tipped taped tipping taping tips tapes trill trail trilled trailed trilling trailing trills trails trips traipse tryst traced twin twain twins twains valid valeted valley valet valleys valets vigour vaguer wake Wick whiff waif whiffs waifs whin Wayne whist waist whit wait whits waits whiz ways wick wake wicks wakes will wail willed wailed willing wailing wills wails wills Wales win wane winning waning wins wanes wind waned wistful wasteful wistfully wastefully witty weighty wittier weightier wittiest weightiest wittily weightily wrist racedGeographical: Outside English-speaking countries, most visitors are from Hong Kong, Costa Rica, Germany, Venezuela, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, Panama, Yemen, India and Malaysia. Average 11 visitors per month.
John Higgins, Shaftesbury, January 2011