Hello and welcome to this week’s Englisch Macht Spaß (so much spaß.) You’re going to need a coffee for this one (in a good way) because we’re dealing with some slippery little suckers today.
Ready? Let’s go.
This was put on my Facebook wall the other day. Have a sip of your coffee, and read it. Read slowly.
1) The bandage was wound around the wound.
2) The farm was used to produce produce.
3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
4) We must polish the Polish furniture..
5) He could lead if he would get the lead out.
6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
7) Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
8) A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
9) When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
10) I did not object to the object.
11) The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
12) There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
13) They were too close to the door to close it.
14) The buck does funny things when the does are present.
15) A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.
16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
17) The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
18) Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear..
19) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
20) How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?
WHAT’S GOING ON?
Homographs my friend, that’s what’s going on.
What is a Homograph?
- A homograph is a word that is spelt the same as another word, but has a different meaning.
- In many cases, the words are distinguishable by their pronunciation – when this happens, ie: the words are spelt the same, but pronounced differently, these words are also called heteronyms.
- If the words, however, are spelt the same way and pronounced the same way, but differ in meaning, they are called homonyms.
Still with me?
Look at the list above – most of the homographs up there are also heteronyms – they are spelt the same way, but pronounced differently. Either the emphasis is in a different spot – refuse vs. refuse; or the vowel is longer/shorter – does (duzz) vs does.
Number 7 features a homonym – ‘present’ meaning the time now and ‘present’ meaning a gift – as well as a heteronym – ‘present‘ as a verb and the two other meanings of present above, which both share the same emphasis – ‘present.’
I hate Homographs! How can I learn them?
Homographs confuse us English speakers too, don’t worry. We sometimes need to pause and repeat the sentence to ourselves, when we encounter homographs. And you can’t really learn them, per se. Context is the only thing that tells you how to pronounce a homograph.
To get you started, I’ve done a little graphic below that shows you where to place the emphasis in some of the homographs from the list above. Read it out loud to yourself.
With the other homographs, you need to think about sounds – vowel sounds and dipthongs. Not familiar with them? Don’t worry! Check out this fantastic interactive phonemic chart. Click around. Listen! Hover over the icons and see which words use that sound!
Now look at this –
The bandage was /waʊnd/ around the /wuːnd/.
Go and click on those vowel sounds and dipthongs on the interactive chart. You’ll hear the difference! It’s actually rather fun.
Optional homework: Try and write all of the other homographs using the vowel sounds and dipthongs from the phonemic chart.
Okay, we’re done for the week!
What other homographs have you come across, in your English language learning experience?
Do they drive you crazy?
*** Any questions, ideas, comments? You know the drill; email me firstname.lastname@example.org,
Tweet me or leave a comment below. ***
And here are the previous EMS posts to catch up on.
- Englisch is Fun
- A Phrasal What?
- Tenses in Pairs Part 1
- Tenses in Pairs Part 2
- The Future
- More Future Possibilities
- British & American English
- Tricks of the Trade: Idioms