THE SOUND |U|
as the first sound in oomph and umlaut
See also |OO| and the note on
|OO| and |U| below
With primary stress on:
OOPS [var: cp |OO|1];
|OO| and |U|
The adjacent sounds |OO| and |U| do not often distinguish words from
the spoken language in meaning.
There are many more words in which the vowel can be pronounced as either
|OO| or |U| than pairs of words whose meanings depend on whether the vowel
is |OO| instead of |U|.
Words such as broom, coop, groom, hoof, hoop, oops, roof, room, root,
whoop and woof may be pronounced with either |OO| or |U| in the
of course, not in all its dialects.
Thus, |BROOM| has precisely the same meaning as |BRUM| (namely, that of
Nonetheless, the sounds |OO| and |U| differentiate semantically in |FOOL|
(fool) versus |FUL| (full) and in |POOL| (pool)
versus |PUL| (pull).
These words would have been 'homonyms' in the spoken language, if the
difference between |OO| and |U| had not mattered.
Yet, in these pairs it is usually also the grammatical category which
differs, the two words with |OO| being nouns and the two with |U| being
an adjective, adverb or verb.
Only if |POOL| (to pool) is used as a
verb as well, will the speaker or listener have to depend much more on
the difference between the sound |OO| and the sound |U|, something that is
even more so the case in |SOOT| (suit) versus |SUT| (soot),
which can both have the function of a noun or a verb.
Because of word pairs such as |SOOT| and |SUT|, with the difference in
meaning between suit and soot, the sounds |OO| and |U|
must be considered separate phonemes.
On the whole, however, the distinction between them is definitely less
important than the one between, for example, |EE| (as in eat) and
|I| (as in it), which are adjacent phonemic vowels too.