Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Language Wrangler Rides Again

Beverly's Big Bad List of Homonyms


Three of the things that can drive people crazy about English spelling and meaning is continual confusion over homonyms, homophones, and homographs.
If you care enough to research what seems to be a simple truth about English--some words are spelled the same, sound the same, but have different definitions depending on context--you've got a great lesson for people who defend the Whole Language Approach. Context matters. The use of phonics doesn't help when it comes to homonyms and stretching our use of simple words.

That's why it's important that both techniques be used in the classroom. That fallacy of either/or causes problems.

The trouble is, perfectly reputable sources define the word homonym differently. That's quite disconcerting when folks defend their viewpoint by noting that, "The dictionary says...." What does one do when the dictionaries are having a brouhaha over meaning? When linguists are getting all huffy?

While reading an academic exploration of the issues called
HOMONYMS, HETERONYMS AND ALLONYMS:A Semantic/Onomantic Puzzle

I found true the following author note: (note is a homonym, by the way)

"Strangely, I have not been able to find any true homonym lists -- words that are pronounced and spelled the same way." -- Fred W. Riggs

I'd been searching all morning for some handy examples. Alan Cooper's list kept bubbling up on many search engines and links, but he's using homophones. ex. ate, eight and wear, where. Homophones are words that sound the same, but are spelled differently. Phone/sound. Get it? Some texts agree with Cooper, others do not.

• Our working definition is that homonyms sound the same and are spelled the same. Each word has multiple meanings, however. •

The meaning must be figured out in context. A good dictionary will help in showing wordsmiths how many different meanings a seemingly ordinary word might have. The most useful dictionary site I've found is One Look because it contains immediate access to mainstream and discipline specific dictionaries.

I'm starting a list because I can't find a long one. Yet they are everywhere in common usage. If you can add to it, please do so in the comments section and I'll post it.

Note: I'm pretty sure the homonyms, run and set, are the two words in English with the most definitions and uses, especially if you don't mind idioms.

Here we go: Beverly's Big Bad List of Homonyms

Metaphorical use is welcome. Slang is fine, too.

*This list is meant to be a jump start, not a definitive collection.

ace
act
arch
arms

ball
band
bank
bark
baste
bat
bear
beat
bill
blank
bloom
blue
broke
bowl
box
bug
bump
burn
busses
bust
butter

cap
case
cast
cell
charm
chase
clip
cord
crane
crank
creep
crest
crop (thanks, Kyle)
coast
code
cue
cut

dart
deal
don
draft
drag
drone
duck
dust

ear
egg
eyes


fade
fair
fawn
fence
fire
float
fly
fluke
frame
frog

game
gay
glare
grace
grain
green

hack
hawk
heel
hood
hose
host

ice
iron

jam
jerk
jig
jog


keys
kids
kite

land
lead
leaves
lie
lime
load
lot

match
mean
moon
mug

nail
note

odd

pants
pass
peer
pick
point

queer
queen
quote


rage
range
rank
rash
relish
right
ring
rip
rock


seal
shade
shots
slip
sole
spade
speed
strain
stretch
stalk
stall
strike


tire
toast
trip

unit

vent
vest

waves
wake
watch
well
wire

yellow
yoke

zest
zip

-0-



1 comment:

Kyle said...

Crop is another one!