English communication in Graz, Austria
Oh 30 Rock, the great teacher of grammar. (Learn the difference between “good” and “well” here.) But did they mess up this time?
Homophones (words that sound the same, but have different spelling and meanings) keep coming up in my classes, and a few of them point out my accent. Words that aren’t homophones in British English “ant” and “aunt”, for example, are indeed homophones with my New England accent: “aynt” and “aynt”!
Homophones make me think of 30 Rock and the fictional grammar game show, “Homonym”. In the show, a contestant hears a word and has to give the meaning. (“Meet/meat” and “stair/stare” are used.) I decided to refresh my memory and look up the difference between homonyms, homophones and homographs.
According to Vocabulary.com,
A homograph is a word that has the same spelling as another word but has a different sound and a different meaning:
lead (to go in front of)/lead (a metal)
A homophone is a word that has the same sound as another word but is spelled differently and has a different meaning:
Depending on whom you talk to, homonym means either:
A word that is spelled like another but has a different sound and meaning (homograph); a word that sounds like another but has a different spelling and meaning (homophone)
A word that is spelled and pronounced like another but has a different meaning (homograph and homophone)
So “meet/meat”, depending on whom you ask, may not be homonyms. (In the strictest sense of the word they aren’t, but it seems like the rules have simply gotten more lax or people are getting sloppier.)
Other than that, 30 Rock is pretty infallible in my eyes! 😉