Sunday, May 30, 2021

Speaking of Words


I love words.  Here's an example of the rabbit holes I take myself down to feed my addiction.  Enjoy.

HOMONYMS are words that sound alike but have different meanings Heart and Hart, for example. HOMOPHONES are a type of homonym that also sound alike and have different meanings and different spellings. HOMOGRAPHS are words that are spelled and sound the same but have different meanings. HETERONYMS are a type of homograph that are also spelled the same and have different meanings but also different sounds.

Some examples:

Homophones first:  

Lead and Lede, (both pronounced lēd.)  This one's a little funky because lead is 'to be in front' and lede is the opening paragraph or sentence of a news story, which could have the same meaning.  


A lede is the most newsworthy part of a news story. Journalists are taught to keep it front and center: a story should lead with the lede. Erika Suffern
 
 Homographs next: 

How about Spell?  You spell a word by arranging the appropriate letters properly.  You may suffer a spell of bad luck or a fainting spell; the implication here is an occurrence or instance — something that happened.  Or, if Wicca is your gig, you may cast a spell on someone or something.

May I refer you to Merriam-Webster for a spell? 

And now it's time for Heteronyms:

The simplest example is Bow.  One refers to the front of a ship as it's bŏw while the instrument used for launching an arrow is a bōw.  To bend from the waist is to bŏw, while after long hours astride a horse, one's legs may bōw.

The above is a single syllable word and there are more like it (Our old friend lead, along with row and sow come to mind, with sōw also participating in a homophonic relationship with sew.) One can compile a fairly long list of Heteronyms using just two syllable words: content, abuse, abstract, buffet, conduct, tear, wind wound, ... .  With the words in that list, the pronunciation differs when the part of speech is changed from noun to verb or visa-versa.  

NOTE:  Some authors have given the label Heteronym to words that describe the same thing in different geographic areas, for example: hoagie, grinder, or submarine sandwich. They have also given it to words that have the same meaning but different origins, like: preface and forward.  I believe both suggestions cheapen the meaning of Heteronym and are the product of linguists with way too much time on their hands.

You be the judge.

Until next time,  Namaste.