Monday, 23 March 2015

Heteronyms

English: This is a Venn diagram showing the re...
English: This is a Venn diagram showing the relationships between pronunciation, spelling, and meaning of words, for example, homographs, homonyms, homophones, heteronyms, and heterographs. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Back in 2009, before Omnia, I did a month's trial period with another translation agency, Intrawelt. There was already an English guy there called Paul who decided to set me a linguistic challenge. I forget exactly what it was, something like words which seemed like they should have an opposite but don't? I remember one example was "feckless", because you don't have "feckful", only it looks as though some people feel that you do. Ah, "unpaired" words, I gather.

Anyway, when Jen joined Omnia, she seemed like the kind of person I could bother with such things myself, so I suggested a similar but different thingamajig: heteronyms. They're words where if you pronounce them one way they mean one thing and if you pronounce them another they mean something else! Anyway, it kills the time.

So we've been working on this list over Skype for a while, but today was Jen's last day so it'll be time

to call it a … day, and I thought I'd post it. Of course, you can find other, and undoubtedly longer, lists on the web, but this, for posterity, is our one:

affect
agape
analyses
appropriate
axes
bases
bass
bow
buffet
collect
compound
conduct
console
content
contest
contract
contrary
convict
curate
defect
denier
desert
diagnoses
does
dogged
dove
elaborate
entrance
forbear
frequent
glower
house
imagines
import
incensed
intimate
invalid
lead
legate
live
lower
minute
mouth
mush
none
number
object
pasty
present
proceeds
process
produce
project
pussy
read
rebel
recount
refuse
relay
resent
resume
routed
row
sake
second
sewer
shower
slaver
sow
supply
tear
used
wind
wound

And speaking of unpaired words:

SHOUTS & MURMURS, THE NEW YORKER, JULY 25, 1994

How I Met My Wife

It had been a rough day, so when I walked into the party I was very chalant, despite my efforts to appear gruntled and consolate. I was furling my wieldy umbrella for the coat check when I saw her standing alone in a corner. She was a descript person, a woman in a state of total array. Her hair was kempt, her clothing shevelled, and she moved in a gainly way. I wanted desperately to meet her, but I knew I’d have to make bones about it, since I was travelling cognito. Beknownst to me, the hostess, whom I could see both hide and hair of, was very proper, so it would be skin off my nose if anything bad happened. And even though I had only swerving loyalty to her, my manners couldn’t be peccable. Only toward and heard-of behavior would do. Fortunately, the embarrassment that my maculate appearance might cause was evitable. There were two ways about it, but the chances that someone as flappable as I would be ept enough to become persona grata or sung hero were slim. I was, after all, something to sneeze at, someone you could easily hold a candle to, someone who usually aroused bridled passion. So I decided not to rush it. But then, all at once, for some apparent reason, she looked in my direction and smiled in a way that I could make heads or tails of. So, after a terminable delay, I acted with mitigated gall and made my way through the ruly crowd with strong givings. Nevertheless, since this was all new hat to me and I had no time to prepare a promptu speech, I was petuous. She responded well, and I was mayed that she considered me a savory character who was up to some good. She told me who she was. “What a perfect nomer,” I said, advertently. The conversation became more and more choate, and we spoke at length to much avail. But I was defatigable, so I had to leave at a godly hour. I asked if she wanted to come with me. To my delight, she was committal. We left the party together and have been together ever since. I have given her my love, and she has requited it.

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