Here's what I've got so far (as well as pages and pages of handwritten notes that are about to be exposed to my legendary typing skills - upwards of five words per minute):
Vowel sounds represented by the spelling 'EA'There are 21 sounds represented by the pair -ea-, but three of these are part of the trigraph -eau- and are dealt with in the -au- section [x-refs tbs].
Of the remaining 18, /i:/ is by far the most common, with nearly twice as many representatives as its nearest rival, and those two together outnumber all the rest by a similar margin.
As well as these sounds, there are words with one syllable ending in e and the next beginning with a. In these cases, the two vowels do not normally interact. the e just works its magic on the preceding syllable...
- [16 more TBS]
And bridging between that G&S song I quoted at the outset and his big aria, Strephon accused, of 'attaining ['partaking'? 'a-taking'?] of his dolce far niente' [to rhyme with 'festina lente'] with Iolanthe, protests:
That dearth is a representative of the '16 more TBS', which it's time I got back to.My Lords, of evidence I have no dearth
She is - has been - my mother from my birth
* 'Tolloller', Wikipedia tells me. 'Earl Tolloller', it says, but one has to forgive Americans for not understanding titles.
Update 15 November 2012 - trivial maths corrections (18-2=16).
Mammon (When Vowels Get Together V4.0: Collection of Kindle word-lists grouping different pronunciations of vowel-pairs – AA-AU, EA-EU, and IA-IU, and – new for V4.0 – OA-OU. If you buy it, contact @WVGTbook on Twitter and I'll alert you to free downloads of the forthcoming volumes; or click the Following button at the foot of this page.)
And if you have no objection to such promiscuity, Like this.
Freebies (Teaching resources: nearly 32,400 views**, and 4,400 downloads to date. They're very eclectic - mostly EFL and MFL, but one of the most popular is from KS4 History, dating from my PGCE, with 1570 views/700 downloads to date. So it's worth having a browse.)
** This figure includes the count of views for a single resource held in an account that I accidentally created many years ago.