Monday, March 9

Phones and Graphs and Other Linguistic Miscellany

While I was on blogging hiatus, I missed National Grammar Day. I'm aghast. However could I let this happen? I must post about grammar today to make up for it.

Two of my favoritest* things in the construction of languages are homophones and homographs. In case you don't remember your elementary grammar, homophones are words that are spelled differently but pronounced in the same way, while homographs are words that are spelled identically but pronounced differently. "Here" and "hear" are homophones. "Bass" (the fish) and "bass" (the instrument) are homographs.

I had a friend in college who was an ESL teacher. Actually, through the years, I've had several friends who taught ESL, but this one teacher was telling me how difficult it was for her to clarify some things about English to her students. She told me they'd spent one entire class session in a spontaneous discussion of animals and phrases which use animal terms. Consider trying to explain the differences, for example, among the idioms "bullheaded," "bully," "hung like a bull," "bullish," "a load of bull," and "like a bull in a china shop"? That discussion alone could cover a whole period!

While we're at it, if you're into grammar, let me recommend the book Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss. I got the book from my father who'd been given multiple copies by various colleagues. Clearly, being a grammar snob runs in the family.

Happy Belated National Grammar Day, everyone!

*Yes, I know "favoritest" is a grammatically impossible term. I'm going for irony here, folks. Bare with me (hee hee hee).

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