Wednesday, December 5, 2007

related terms in homonmys

Related terms


Several similar linguistic concepts are related to homonymy, and some are considered sub-types of homonyms. This variety stems in part from the fact that the term 'homonym' is ambiguous, as there are a number of ways that two meanings can share the 'same name'. Related terms include:
Homography. Homographs are homonyms that share the same spelling. Homographs may be pronounced the same, in which case they are also homophones – for example, bark (the sound of a dog) and bark (the skin of a tree). Alternatively they may be pronounced differently, in which case they are also heteronyms – for example, row (argument) and row (propel with oars). ("Homograph" also has a specialised meaning in typography, where it may be used as a synonym for homoglyph.)
Homophony. Homophones are homonyms that share the same pronunciation. Homophones may be spelled the same (in which case they are also homographs) or spelled differently (in which case they are heterographs). Homographic examples include desert (to abandon) and dessert (a thing deserved). Heterographic examples include to, too, two, and there, their, they’re.
Heteronymy. Heteronyms are homonyms that share the same spelling but have different pronunciations. That is, they are homographs which are not homophones. Such words include desert (to abandon) and desert (arid region). Heteronyms are also sometimes called heterophones. ("Heteronym" also has a specialized meaning in poetry; see Heteronym (literature).)
Polysemy. Polysemes are words with the same spelling and distinct but related meanings. The distinction between polysemy and homonymy is often subtle and subjective, and not all sources consider polysemous words to be homonyms. Words such as "mouth", meaning either the orifice on one's face, or the opening of a cave or river, are polysemous and may or may not be considered homonyms.
Capitonymy. Capitonyms are homonyms that share the same spelling but have different meanings when capitalized (and may or may not have different pronunciations). Such words include polish (to make shiny) and Polish (from Poland).
In derivation, homograph means "same writing", homophone means "same sound", heteronym (somewhat confusingly) means "different name", and heterophone means "different sound".

[edit] Terminological confusion
There is considerable confusion and contradiction in published sources about the distinction between homonyms, homographs, homophones and heteronyms. Significant variant interpretations include:
Chambers 21st Century Dictionary [1] defines a homonym as "a word with the same sound and spelling as another, but with a different meaning" (italics added). Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary [2] also says that a homonym is "one of two or more words spelled and pronounced alike but different in meaning" (italics added), but appears to also give homonym as a synonym for either homophone or homograph.
Cambridge Dictionary of American English [3] defines homonym as "a word that is spelled the same as another word but that does not have the same meaning" (the same as what above is called a homograph).
The entry for homonym in The Encyclopaedia Britannica (14th Edition) states that homographs are "words spelt but not sounded alike", and homophones are "words alike only in sound [i.e. not alike in spelling]" (italics and comment added).
Homographs are defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as words that are spelled and pronounced the same as another but with a different meaning, thus excluding pairs such as desert (abandon) and desert (arid region).
The Encarta dictionary [4] defines heteronym as "each of two or more words that are spelled the same, but differ in meaning and often in pronunciation" (italics added).
The "Fun with Words" website [5] says that a heteronym is "One of two (or more) words that have the same spelling, but different meaning, and sometimes different pronunciation too" (in other words, what is called a homograph above).

[edit] Further examples
A further example of a homonym which is both a homophone and a homograph is fluke. Fluke can mean:
A fish, and a flatworm.
The end parts of an anchor.
The fins on a whale's tail.
A stroke of luck.
All four are separate lexemes with separate etymologies, but share the one form, fluke*[6].
Similarly, a river bank, a savings bank, a bank of switches, and a bank shot in pool share only a common spelling and pronunciation, but not meaning.
The words bow and bough are interesting because there are two meanings associated with a single pronunciation and spelling (the weapon and the knot); there are two meanings with two different pronunciations (the knot and the act of bending at the waist), and there are two distinct meanings sharing the same sound but different spellings: (bow, the act of bending at the waist, and bough, the branch of a tree). In addition, it has several related but distinct meanings - a bent line is sometimes called a 'bowed' line, reflecting its similarity to the weapon. Thus, even according to the most restrictive definitions, various pairs of sounds and meanings of bow and bough are homonyms, homographs, homophones, heterophones, heterographs, and are polysemous.
bow - To bend forward at the waist in respect (e.g. "bow down")
bow - the front of the ship (e.g. "bow and stern")
bow - the weapon which fires arrows (e.g. "bow and arrow")
bow - a kind of tied ribbon (e.g. bow on a present, a bowtie)
bow - to bend outward at the sides (e.g. a "bow-legged" cowboy)
bough - a branch on a tree. (e.g. "when the bough breaks...")

[edit] Homonymy in historical linguistics
Homonymy can lead to communicative conflicts and thus trigger lexical (onomasiological) change[1]. This is known as homonymic conflict.

[edit] External links

Look up homonym in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

This article has been illustrated as part of WikiProject WikiWorld.

Information on teaching homophones including free ebook and teaching tips
Alan Cooper's Homonym List
Quiz to learn homonyms
Quiz Using Picture Clues
Homophone Translator

[edit] References
^ On this phenomenon see Williams, Edna R. (1944), The Conflict of Homonyms in English, [Yale Studies in English 100], New Haven: Yale University Press, Grzega, Joachim (2004), Bezeichnungswandel: Wie, Warum, Wozu? Ein Beitrag zur englischen und allgemeinen Onomasiologie, Heidelberg: Winter, p. 216ff., and Grzega, Joachim (2001d), “Über Homonymenkonflikt als Auslöser von Wortuntergang”, in: Grzega, Joachim (2001c), Sprachwissenschaft ohne Fachchinesisch: 7 aktuelle Studien für alle Sprachinteressierten, Aachen: Shaker, p. 81-98.

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