The English Language can be Difficult at Times
The English language can seem to be difficult if you’re not a native speaker and can seem difficult even if you’re a native speaker!!!
THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE CAN BE difficult as some words can be misleading. Words can be misleading because some words sound alike (to, too, two) but may have different meanings. Also, some words may sound alike but be spelled differently (to, too, two) and may or may not have the same meaning.
In linguistics, there may be words with both identical pronunciations and identical spellings but different meanings. Two pairs of examples are, but definitely not limited to quail (the bird) and quail (to cringe) and bear (the animal) and bear (to endure.) These words are known as homophones — which means “same sounds” in Latin.
Then, there may be words that are spelled alike but are different in pronunciation and meaning. Two pairs of examples are bow (of a ship) and bow (that shoots arrows) and bass (stringed instrument) and bass (the fish.). These are known as holographs.
Then there’s homonyms, broadly defined, they may refer to three distinct classes of words. Homonyms — from the Greek prefix “homo” meaning “same,” and “onym” meaning “name” — may be words with identical pronunciations but different spellings and meanings, such as to, too, and two; ad and add; and finally air, err, and heir.
A more restrictive or technical definition of homonyms are words that are simultaneously homographs and homophones — that is to say they have identical spelling and pronunciation — whilst maintaining different meanings. Examples of these are the pairs stalk (part of a plant) and stalk (follow/harass a person) and the pair left (past tense of leave) and left (opposite of right).
There are two other types of words I will discuss at a later date.
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…