Roughly speaking, vowels are arranged according to where and how they are pronounced in the mouth. The order, from back to front, is: u, o, a, e, i. The vowels u and i are close vowels, pronounced with the tongue close to the roof of the mouth; o and e are mid-vowels; and a is an open vowel, pronounced with the tongue away from the roof of the mouth.
This position of the vowels in the mouth is reflected in the ease with which word connections can be made by changing the vowels. For example, a-e is a very easy change to make. Let us look at some examples.
It is ballast that keeps a boat stable in the water. Shakespeare wrote that “All the world’s a stage” (earth–theatre, same letters, different order); the Spanish playwright Calderón de la Barca wrote a play called Life Is a Dream – we see this in the connection between drama and dream. If we turn earth around, we find that it spells three – it is the third major planet in order of distance from the Sun, and also, according to the Genesis account, it was created on day three. If we have faith, we must beware of the thief who would steal it from us!
Let us look at the pair a-i. We reap a crop when it is ripe. Satan is only a vowel change from the word saint. We can also connect sea and ice (bear in mind that the letter c can be pronounced k or s, and so can easily be replaced by one of these letters).
Finally, let us look at the pair e-i, pronounced towards the front of the mouth. Our sense of a hole can lead us to sin (though all we need is the addition of a letter – w, a supine three – to fill this hole); a step away is holy (the semi-consonants j and y correspond to the vowel i). Another connection is meet and time: I believe that time exists in order to give us the opportunity to meet someone. And we read in the Gospel of John 12:24 (and also in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians 15:36) that a seed dies in the ground in order to bear fruit.
Can you make any word connections by changing a vowel in the following words?