English has too many homophones

Discussion in 'The Study' started by PhotonGuy, Feb 27, 2017.

  1. PhotonGuy

    PhotonGuy Senior Master

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    If you ask me, the English language has too many homophones, words with more than one meaning. If you look up the word "pick," in just about any dictionary for instance, you will find many different meanings and that's just one example. So with so many homophones in English it can make it confusing sometimes. Just one of my gripes about the English language.
     
  2. Tez3

    Tez3 Sr. Grandmaster

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    Why are you worried, you don't speak English..... .
     
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  3. Steve

    Steve Mostly Harmless

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    English is a funny language. There have been so many different languages folded into what is now English that it can get tricky, even if you ignore regional and national variations (American vs Canadian, etc).
     
  4. Steve

    Steve Mostly Harmless

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    What language do you believe he is using?
     
  5. Monkey Turned Wolf

    Monkey Turned Wolf MT Moderator Staff Member

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    He's clearly TYPING english, not speaking it.

    He must be mute and doesn't speak any language.
     
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  6. Kung Fu Wang

    Kung Fu Wang Grandmaster

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    English is a funny language. The definition of

    1. shipment - cargo by trucks.
    2. cargo - freight of a ship.

    Is that funny?
     
  7. Xue Sheng

    Xue Sheng All weight is underside

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    Really...well let me say this in plain english...them right thar....well those thar be fightin' words :D
     
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  8. Steve

    Steve Mostly Harmless

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    :) typing or speaking, I think photonguy and just about everyone else around here does English.
     
  9. PhotonGuy

    PhotonGuy Senior Master

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    Technically not. I speak American. At least that's what they officially call the main language spoken in the USA.
     
  10. Steve

    Steve Mostly Harmless

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    Officially, it's English, or maybe even American English. But some refer to it as American. I mean, if we are being official. ;)
     
  11. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    Ha! Too many homophones? Try Japanese...

    真 - true, sincere
    新 - new
    辛 - pungent, hard
    伸 - stretch
    申 - report, humbly declare
    神 - spirit, deity, god
    心 - heart, spirit, mind
    身 - body, one's self

    All of the above are pronounced, or can be pronounced, "shin"... and this is maybe a quarter of all the possible ways of writing it... probably less... with each being different words entirely...
     
  12. yak sao

    yak sao Senior Master

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    To confuse the issue even more, pick,
    the word the OP used as his example is not a homophone but rather a homograph, both of which are homonyms.
    So a homograph is always a homonym, but a homonym is not always a homograpgh.

    Interesting side note, homonym is itself a homomym /homophone.....

    ie. Homonym and hominem.

    .......just thought I'd throw that out there( their, they're) ;)
     
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  13. Steve

    Steve Mostly Harmless

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    hominem seems like a cheat, given that it's Latin. :D

    But the real question is, what the heck is a heteronym? :)
     
  14. yak sao

    yak sao Senior Master

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    I wouldn't call it cheating...maybe pushing the envelope a bit
     
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  15. yak sao

    yak sao Senior Master

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    beats me, I have enough trouble with homonym/ homograpgh/ homophone
     
  16. Xue Sheng

    Xue Sheng All weight is underside

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    HA! try Mandarin :D


    Mandarin

    My favorite, which messes up many Chinese speakers when they speak English (they have a habit of using he and she interchangeably)

    : 他 (He) and 她 (she)

    And then there are these

    yóuyú: 由于 (“because of; due to”) and 鱿鱼 (“squid”)
    chénmò: 沉默 (“silent; taciturn”) and 沉没 (“to sink”)
    jìyì: 记忆 (“remember”) and 技艺 (“skill; art”)
    jiāodài: 交代 or 交待 (“to hand over; to explain; to make clear; et al”) and 胶带 (“tape”)
    yuányīn: 原因 (“cause; origin; reason”) and 元音 (“vowel”)
    bēijù: 悲剧 (“tragedy”) and 杯具 (“cups; tragedy, as a euphemism”)
    wángguó: 王国 (“kingdom”) and 亡国 (“country/kingdom heading for destruction or that has vanished”)
    quánlì: 权利 (“power; right; privilege”) and 权力 (“power; authority”)
    yìyì: 意义 (“sense; meaning; significance”) and 异议 (“objection; dissent”), plus 意译 (“meaning-based translation”)
    mílù: 迷路 (“to get lost”) and 麋鹿 (“Père David’s deer; milu”)
    bǐshì: 鄙视 (“despise; disdain; look down upon”) and 笔试 (“written examination”)
    lìzi(zǐ): 例子 (“example”) and 粒子 (“grain; particle”)
    shǒushì: 手势 (“gesture; signal”) and 首饰 (“jewellery”), plus 守势 (“defensive position”)
    gōngshì: 公式 (“formula”) and 攻势 (“military offensive”)
    xiāngjiāo: 香蕉 (“banana”) and 相交 (“to cross over; to intersect; to make friends”)
    xíngli(lǐ): 行李 (“luggage”) and 行礼 (“to salute”)
    lìhai(hài): 厉害 (“ferocious; awesome; et al”) and 利害 (“pros and cons”)
    dǔzhù: 堵住 (“to block up”) and 赌注 (“stake (in a gamble)”)
    qǐngkè: 请客 (“to entertain guests”) and 顷刻 (“instantly”)
    zhìfú: 制服 (“to subdue; to check; uniform; et al”) and 制伏 (“to overpower; to control; et al”)
    pípa: 枇杷 (“loquat”) and 琵琶 (“pipa, the Chinese lute”)
    róngyì: 容易 (“easy”) and 溶液 (“solution, in chemistry” – this homophone exists in Taiwan only, in mainland China it is pronounced róngyè)
    shèngshì: 盛世 (“prosperous period”) and 盛事 (“grand occasion”)
    bàofù: 报复 (“revenge”) and 抱负 (“aspiration; ambition”)
    jùbiàn: 巨变 (“massive changes”) and 剧变 (“fast change”)
    xīnsuān: 心酸 (“sad”) and 辛酸 (“spicy and sour” – can also be used as a metaphor for sadness)
    pǐnwèi: 品味 (“to sample; to taste”) and 品位 (“rank; grade; aesthetic taste”)
    zhēnchá: 侦查 (“to detect; to investigate”) and 侦察 (“to investigate a crime; to scout; et al”)
    guǎnzhì: 管制 (“to control; to supervise”) and 管治 (“to govern”)
    yǐnqíng: 隐情 (“facts one wishes to keep secret; ulterior motive”) and 引擎 (“engine”)
    guòdù: 过度 (“excessive”) and 过渡 (“to cross over; et al”)
    mùdì: 目的 (“goal”) and 墓地 (“graveyard; burial ground; cemetery”)

    And don't get me started on words that sound the same to the typical western ear but are vastly different based on tone.

    Horse > 马
    Hemp > 麻
    Scold > 骂
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2017
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  17. frank raud

    frank raud Master Black Belt

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    Is there another language you speak that doesn't have words with multiple meanings?
     
  18. Steve

    Steve Mostly Harmless

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    The language of love?
     
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  19. Xue Sheng

    Xue Sheng All weight is underside

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    English has NOTHING on Chinese (Mandarin) when it comes to homophones

    I just came across this on the web and I can't believe I forgot this one. My wife did this one for me once to prove a point about tones -

    "Lion-Eating Poet in the Stone Den" aka "Shī Shì shí shī shǐ"

    " 施氏食獅史"
    石室詩士施氏,嗜獅,誓食十獅。
    氏時時適市視獅。
    十時,適十獅適市。
    是時,適施氏適市。
    氏視是十獅,恃矢勢,使是十獅逝世。
    氏拾是十獅屍,適石室。
    石室濕,氏使侍拭石室。
    石室拭,氏始試食是十獅。
    食時,始識是十獅屍,實十石獅屍。
    試釋是事。

    the pinyin

    " Shī Shì shí shī shǐ"
    Shíshì shīshì Shī Shì, shì shī, shì shí shí shī.
    Shì shíshí shì shì shì shī.
    Shí shí, shì shí shī shì shì.
    Shì shí, shì Shī Shì shì shì.
    Shì shì shì shí shī, shì shǐ shì, shǐ shì shí shī shìshì.
    Shì shí shì shí shī shī, shì shíshì.
    Shíshì shī, Shì shǐ shì shì shíshì.
    Shíshì shì, Shì shǐ shì shí shì shí shī.
    Shí shí, shǐ shí shì shí shī shī, shí shí shí shī shī.
    Shì shì shì shì.

    translation:

    "Lion-Eating Poet in the Stone Den"
    In a stone den was a poet called Shi, who was a lion addict, and had resolved to eat ten lions.
    He often went to the market to look for lions.
    At ten o'clock, ten lions had just arrived at the market.
    At that time, Shi had just arrived at the market.
    He saw those ten lions, and using his trusty arrows, caused the ten lions to die.
    He brought the corpses of the ten lions to the stone den.
    The stone den was damp.
    He asked his servants to wipe it.
    After the stone den was wiped, he tried to eat those ten lions.
    When he ate, he realized that these ten lions were in fact ten stone lion corpses.
    Try to explain this matter.
     
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  20. pgsmith

    pgsmith Master of Arts

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    Oh no! That has even MORE multiple meanings! :D123
     

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