Language is like a Box of Chocolates
Language is like a box of chocolates: sometimes you get the same one twice. I don’t doubt that we have all encountered one of these sweet little treats at one time or another. Creamy dark chocolate covering a nice macadamia nut — just like what you expected right? The same as the last one…Wrong, not this time! This one has a gooey caramel center. Surprise! You found the homophone of the candy world.
Of course I’m not here to talk about chocolate, as much as that would please both of us; I’m here to talk about sweet mouthfuls of words with different meanings, despite their identical sounds or spelling. There are a few names for the different types of words I am describing here, so let’s run through them:
Words that are pronounced the same way yet have different spelling. I baked the flour in the shape of a flower; I too, shall walk to number two.
Words with identical spelling but different meanings and possibly pronunciations. With a Spanish accent, you place the accent on a different syllable.
Words with identical spelling but different pronunciation. They are homographs that are not homophones. When you think about it, a minute is really just a minute amount of time.
Last but not least, the oronyms are phrases that sound similar but have different meanings. The obvious ‘I scream for ice cream’ comes to mind.
Now it’s okay if you don’t remember all of them and which category they fall under, I simply want to make you aware of them, to bring their existence into clear view. With a little knowledge of these treats you can avoid some awkward moments, and if you’re so inclined even have some fun:
“The toaster gave a toast to the toast that had been toasted, then we dove into the cooked dove. Later I was bored — I needed to find a way to get away, so I digested the food and read the digest, then rose from my seat and smelt the roses. I felt content with the content of my stomach, so proceeded to leave. I left through the entrance; I felt entranced, so I turned left and went down the road. I passed some builders building a building, a man using a saw saw me, I waved. In the distance I could see the sea, and a woman with a tear in her eye, so I decided to tear off some tissue and wipe it away.”
What a muddled and confusing story that is, but fun nonetheless; and there are infinite possibilities. What’s also important to note is that the same issues exist in other languages, take Spanish for example:
Asta – Mast / Hasta – Until
Basta – Enough / Basta – Coarse / Vasta – Vast
Calle – Street / Calle – To silence
Ciento – Hundred / Siento – To feel
Papa – Pope / Papa – Potato
So the fun isn’t limited to English! Of course these can prove to make communicating in a new language a little difficult, but once you learn the ropes you should be able to have a laugh about it. Can you think of others that have come into your conversations? Can you make an interesting story or scenario of your own?