This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Nuts and Bolts: homophones

The poem below, or variants of it, are to be found scattered throughout the Internet. A depressing number of them include the misinformation that a homophone is a word that sounds the same as another but is spelled differently.

A word like that - bare, for example - is indeed a homophone because it sounds the same as bear. But then Bourbon is a homophone, too, because Bourbon meaning a member of a French royal family is different from Bourbon meaning a sort of biscuit.

(Bourbon meaning a type of drink isn't a homophone at all because you say it BERbn and the other meanings are BORbn.)

Another sort of homophone is something like ph, because it usually sounds the same as f. Though not as in of or (usually) phthalate.

I must also say here that spell-checkers, however imperfect, are a boon. I mean, how can they make things worse?

You can certainly have a lot of fun with them.

Regarding Computer Spell Checkers.
Eye have* a spelling chequer
It came with my pea sea
It plainly marques four my re view
Miss steaks eye can knot sea.

Eye strike a quay and type a word
And weight four it two say
Weather aye am wrong oar write
It shows me strait a weigh.

As soon as a mist ache is maid
It nose bee fore two long
And eye can put the error rite
Its rare lea ever wrong.

Eye have run this poem threw it
I am shore your pleased two no
Its letter perfect awl the weigh
My chequer tolled me sew.

(Sauce unknown)

My own spell checker did indeed pass the whole piece sound as a bell.


Thing To Be Aware of Today: homophones. Well, there awl over the plaice, aren't they?

*Every version of this verse I've found begins Eye halve a spelling chequer...but as halve isn't a homophone in any dialect of English I've ever come across I've altered it.

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