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minimal pair


minimal pair

Examples of minimal pairs


In phonetics, two words that differ in only one sound (a phoneme), such as hit and hid.

See also:

Examples and Observations:

  • "We looked!
    Then we saw him step in on
    the mat!
    We looked!
    And we saw him!
    The Cat in the Hat!"
    (Dr. Seuss, The Cat in the Hat, 1957)

  • "Cheers and Jeers is an activity that provides an opportunity to use music and humor to relax and release tension."
    (Edie L. Holcomb, Getting Excited About Data. Corwin Press, 2004)

  • "A minimal pair is a pair of words that differ in a single phoneme. Minimal pairs are often used to show that two sounds contrast in a language. For example, we can demonstrate that [s] and [z] contrast in English by adducing minimal pairs such as sip and zip, or bus and buzz. Since the only difference in these words is the [s] vs. [z], we conclude that they belong to distinct phonemes. However, a similar test would show that [a:j] and [Aj] are distinct phonemes in English, since writer and rider appear to be minimal pairs distinguished in their second elements, not their fourth."
    (James Alasdair McGilvray, The Cambridge Companion to Chomsky. Cambridge Univ. Press, 2005)

  • "Lit Up/Let Down"
    (album by the band Vains of Jenna, 2006)

  • "The learner has to identify medial or final plosives in isolated words and in sentences where either member of a minimal pair would fit in naturally. For example: Do you repair clocks/clogs?"
    (Inge Livbjerg and Inger M. Mees, "Segmental Errors in the Pronunciation of Danish Speakers of English," 1995)

  • "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not."
    (Dr. Seuss, The Lorax, 1972)

  • "The US Coast Guard had 125-foot cutters and eight 765-foot long patrol boats. By the late 1920s, forty-five vessels operated out of this local base with some parking at the pier, as can be seen in a postcard."
    (A. Wynelle Deese, St. Petersburg, Florida. The History Press, 2006)
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