homophones (was Re: "Tom Swifties" (Was Re: Prescriptivism))

Michael McKernan mckernan at LOCALNET.COM
Mon Dec 5 02:31:27 UTC 2005

 Laurence Horn wrote:

> AHD4, for
>example, has
>HOMONYM: one of two or more words that have the same sound and often
>the same spelling but differ in meaning, such as ["bank" vs. "bank"]
>HOMOPHONE: one of two or more words, such as "night" and "knight",
>that are pronounced the same but differ in meaning, origin, and
>sometimes spelling
>But that can't be right--do we really want to say that "metal" and
>"mettle" are NOT homophones, given that they have the same origin?
>And what about "bear" and "bear" above, or "bank" and
>"bank"--homonyms but not homophones?
>Anyone have a strong intuition or religious belief about this,
>whether or not supported by any evidence?

Larry, I think that AHD4 might well reconsider its definition of
'homophone.'  Changing it to read

'pronounced the same but differ in meaning, and sometimes origin and/or

would address at least one of your complaints.  Or 'origin' could be
omitted entirely as a criterion, as far as I'm concerned, since it seems to
have little (or no) value in the categorization here.

Michael McKernan

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