Friday, 4 March 2016

Words, Polysemes, Capitonyms and more ...

It is always an unknown factor with a blog as to whether you are writing purely for yourself or whether anyone will read your composition.  Therefore, I've been delighted to receive a few messages from people to say they are following my rambles with interest.  To them, I would like to say thank you and use this opportunity to say hello to Penny Taylor.

Penny is interested in the history of Plymouth and due to various activities on local walks and so on, became aware of my book, Inspeximus.  Amusingly, she referred to it in one message to me as 'Inspecsy-Mouse' which immediately set my mind to a wide range of images, mainly - that here was an excellent title for a children's detective character.

This in turn (as one thing always leads to another), generated my thoughts towards how words are interpreted and the challenges of the English language with all its foibles.  We could start by looking at Homonym's and Homophone's:

Homonym:  One of a group of words that share the same pronunciation but have different meanings.  One easy example is 'bow'.  This could refer to the bow in bow and arrow, to bow down to the king or queen, tie a bow in your hair or create music by putting a bow to a violin.

Homophone:  A word that has the same sound as another word but is spelled differently with a different meaning. for example, to/too/two and pray/prey.

However ..... the word Heterographs are also referred to as to, too, two and there, their.  Confused?  A breakdown of the word Heterograph means 'different writing' so technically this is correct. 

Consider this sentence:  The wind swirled up the leaves/I must wind up the clock today.

What about a Synophone then?  These are a little more slippery and can be identified with how a foreigner learning English, may make an easy mistake.  Think of spellings and sounds, for example ...

Methods of teaching English in our schools is quiet weak.

Did you see the Synophone above?  Yes, the word 'quiet' and 'quite' sound the same if said quickly.

We can grow even more adventurous with Polysemes.  These are words which are seen more in creative writing although we don't consciously use them.  For example, 'the strong arm of the law,' or 'the gaping mouth of the cave on the beach.'   The word 'arm' can be the physical limb, ammunition or used to describe a form of strength. the word mouth can again be a physical part of the body, an opening or description of where a river yawns ahead at its widest points. 

And it means that Capitonyms don't escape categorizations either.  Think of when you 'polish' the furniture or your neighbour has a 'Polish' student staying with them.

They say that English is one of the most difficult languages in the world to learn. Personally I think I would find Chinese a challenge.  Not that I'm looking to learn Chinese as I'm still trying to capture my knowledge of English.

So thank you Penny for your message on Inspecsy-Mouse.  I already have rich images in my mind of a little whiskered chap with a Sherlock Holmes hat and cap, sporting a curled pipe and speaking like the detective Columbo.  'Excuse me sir/ma'am .... Just one more thing ... When you rose from your bed this morning did you notice that dead body in your rose garden?'

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