Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Who knew interpolate had a homophone?

Seriously, I've been speaking this language for close to 40 years, and there's still all these words I don't know.

Interpellate's a good one to know, though. We're hoping for more of it. It's almost impossible to use it in a sentence and not get some hope for the future. As Bush cronies get interpellated during the Irving Libby's trial for impeding the nation's work on WMDs, don't you get a little charge?

[title changed in light of Brad's comment below]


Brad said...

That was a new one on me, too! Had to look it up. And while I was at it, I checked out "homonym", too: that one's a minefield. It looks like, technically, "interpolate" and "interpellate" are actually homophones, but that Random House's usage council will let you get away with saying "homonym" in informal contexts.


Homonym, homophone, and homograph designate words that are identical to other words in spelling or pronunciation, or both, while differing from them in meaning and usually in origin. Homophones are words that sound alike, whether or not they are spelled differently. The words pear “fruit,” pare “cut off,” and pair “two of a kind” are homophones that are different in spelling; bear “carry; support” and bear “animal” are homophones that are spelled alike. Homographs are words that are spelled identically but may or may not share a pronunciation. Spruce “tree” and spruce “neat” are homographs, but so are row /roʊ/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[roh] “line” and row /raʊ/[rou] “fight” as well as sewer /ˈsuər/[soo-er] “conduit for waste” and sewer /ˈsoʊər/[soh-er] “person who sews.” Homonyms are, in the strictest sense, both homophones and homographs, alike in spelling and pronunciation, as the two forms bear. Homonym, however, is used more frequently than homophone, a technical term, when referring to words with the same pronunciation without regard to spelling. Homonym is also used as a synonym of homograph. Thus, it has taken on a broader scope than either of the other two terms and is often the term of choice in a nontechnical context.

Rionn Fears Malechem said...

Well, if there's a technically correct word, we should use it. I'm updating the title.