Homographs and Heteronyms

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Homographs are words of like spelling but with more than one meaning. A homograph that is also pronounced differently is a heteronym. Here are some examples of both (author unknown):

1) The bandage was wound around the wound.
2) The farm was used to produce produce.
3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
4) We must polish the Polish furniture.
5) He could lead if he would get the lead out.
6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
7) Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
8) When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
9) I did not object to the object.
10) The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
11) They were too close to the door to close it.
12) The buck does funny things when the does are present.
13) Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.
14) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.

English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant, no ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins weren’t invented in England or French fries in France. Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren’t sweet, are meat. Quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square, and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

Why is it that writers write but fingers don’t fing, grocers don’t groce and hammers don’t ham? If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn’t the plural of booth, beeth? One goose, two geese. So one moose, two meese?

If teachers taught, why didn’t preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? People recite at a play and play at a recital?

How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites? One has to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which a house can burn up as it burns down, you fill in a form by filling it out, and noses run and feet smell!

English reflects the creativity of the human race, which, of course, is not a race at all. When the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.

Throughout the history of mankind, including biblical times, words have been important. St. Paul writes: “When we tell you these things, we do not use words that come from human wisdom. Instead, we speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths.” 1 Cor. 2:13

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Lost Words from Our Childhood

childhoodGod willing, this Sunday will be Terry’s and my 51st wedding anniversary. I thank God for this wonderful woman whom I dearly love! She has been and continues to be a huge blessing to me, our children, our grandchildren and lots of people, many of whom she has never even met!

We were married on my 23rd birthday. Remembering our anniversary is not a problem. Agreeing on which event we should celebrate on January 29 is a challenge. I say anniversary. Terry says birthday. Although both a bit strong-willed, we usually come up with a workable solution!

Both of us are also chronologically mature enough to recall words and phrases used in our childhood but mostly absent from the vocabulary of our children and grandchildren. Here are some that came to my attention not long ago:

  • Heavens to Murgatroyd! (Spell check didn’t even recognize the word!)
  • Let’s get in the old Jalopy and go to town.
  • Don’t touch that dial!
  • Be sure to make a carbon copy!
  • You sound like a broken record!
  • Put on your best bib and tucker!
  • Straighten up and fly right!
  • Heavens to Betsy! Gee Whillikers! Jumping Jehoshaphat! Holy Moley!
  • Oh, my aching back!
  • Kilroy was here, but he’s long gone!
  • Pshaw! The milkman did it!
  • Go ahead! It’s your nickel!
  • Knee high to a grasshopper.
  • Well, Fiddlesticks! Don’t take any wooden nickels!

There are more of these lost words and expressions than Carter has little liver pills! Those of us past the midpoint of the chronological arc remember at least some of these words and phrases that once strutted their hour upon the earthly stage and now are heard no more, except in our collective memory. It’s one of the profound realities of aging experienced by every generation.

We were in like Flynn and living the life of Riley, and even a regular guy couldn’t accuse us of being a knucklehead, a nincompoop or a pill. Not for all the tea in China! Gone are the days of beehives, pageboys, spats, knickers, fedoras, poodle skirts, saddle shoes, and pedal pushers.  Shucks, I don’t even remember some of those things.

Well, I hope you’re Hunky Dory after you read this article. See ya’ later, alligator! After while, crocodile! God bless your day!

Think Before You Speak!

megaphone-147176_1280Some people say things seemingly without thinking. Here are a few examples I saw recently:

  • A question asked of a contestant in a Miss America contest over 20 years ago: “If you could live forever, would you and why?” The answer of the contestant and subsequent winner: “I would not live forever, because we should not live forever, because if we were supposed to live forever, then we would live forever, but we cannot live forever, which is why I would not live forever.”
  • A famous singer/actress: “Whenever I watch TV and see those poor starving kids all over the world, I can’t help but cry. I mean I’d love to be skinny like that, but not with all those flies and death and stuff.”
  • A well-known actress during an interview to become spokesperson for a federal anti-smoking campaign: “Smoking kills. If you’re killed, you’ve lost a very important part of your life.”
  • A college basketball player: “I’ve never had major knee surgery on any other part of my body.”
  • A former mayor of Washington, D.C.: “Outside of the killings, Washington has one of the lowest crime rates in the country.”
  • A major league baseball team manager: “Half this game is ninety percent mental.”
  • A former U.S. Vice-President: “It isn’t pollution that’s harming the environment. It’s the impurities in our air and water that are doing it.”
  • Another former U.S. Vice-President: “I love California. I practically grew up in Phoenix.”
  • A collegiate ROTC instructor: “We don’t necessarily discriminate. We simply exclude certain types of people.”
  • An Australian government official: “Traditionally, most of Australia’s imports come from overseas.”
  • The Department of Social Services in a U.S. city: “Your food stamps will be stopped effective March 1992 because we received notice that you passed away. May God bless you. You may reapply if there is a change in your circumstances.”

A well-known adage is this: “It’s better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.” Proverbs 21:23 says: “Watch your tongue and keep your mouth shut and you will stay out of trouble.” And David said in Psalm 19:14: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.”

Think before you speak! What you say and how you say it does make a difference!