Monday, October 21, 2013

Console your Video Game Console: A Study in Homographs

My boyfriend recently bought me an Xbox (the first gen one) so I could play one of my favorite games, Fable. As I planned out the task of setting the video game console up to the TV, I realized that the word “console” can also mean to “console” a friend who is upset. 

And then I started thinking about other words that followed this weird rule and wondered if there was a word for these type of words. Yes, I think very tangentially sometimes.

The English language has so many idiosyncrasies that make it very difficult for not only English language learners but even native speakers to master. It turns out that the “console” duality is referred to as a homograph.

We all know about homophones, those words that sound the same but mean different things and are spelled differently. We learn this one quickly because it leads to lots of spelling mistakes. For example, to/two/too and their/they're/there are some of the most commonly misused.

A homograph is a word that is spelled the same as another word, but it means something different and is often pronounced differently. The easiest way to explain this is through examples. For instance “wound” can refer to an injury or wrapping a bandage around the injury.

Here are a few other examples, written in some-what nonsensical sentences.
  • The bass swam to the sound of the bass.
  • He hit the bat with a metal bat.
  • She pulled the down blanket down from the shelf.
  • You will receive a fine for your fine styling of her fine hair.
  • The most minute bug can travel far in just a minute.
  • He moped when his moped refused to start.
  • She waved at the waves crashing onto the shore.
  • I need to console my video game console.
What examples can you come up with?

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