(No idea if this is the right forum for this thread… GQ? Thread games?)
So in English, there are some sets of words that are spelled differently, but pronounced the same. (For instance, “right” and “write”). These are called homonyms.
There are also words that are spelled the same, but pronounced differently. (For instance, “lead” the metal and “lead” the verb). These are called homographs.
What I’m asking for is a chain that strictly alternates between homonyms and homographs (and in which none of the homonyms are homographs, or vice versa).
The best I’ve done is two different chains of four:
Bough (tree branch)
Bow (at the end of a play)
Bow (violin-playing tool)
Read (present tense)
Read (past tense)
Can anyone do better?
(It would also be neat to make a loop which ends up where it started.)
And you could replace “red” in the second list with “redd”, which is a verb meaning to clean or tidy, as in “I need to redd up the house before company comes over”. I’m not sure if it’s used outside of Appalachian dialects, though.
Other than that, the best I can come up with is the three-chain base (foundation)-bass (low-pitched)-bass (fish). But I can’t think of any other words spelled like the foundation word or pronounced like the fish (there are a number of meanings for “base”, but they’re all pronounced the same, and have related meanings)
Homophones are pronounced the same but may also be spelled the same; Wikipedia suggests heterograph for the subset of homophones that are spelled differently, which seems logical.
Homographs have the same spelling but (according to some definitions) may also be pronounced identically; heteronym/heterophone more clearly distinguishes the subset of homographs that are pronounced differently.
Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo is a grammatically correct sentence in American English, often presented as an example of how homonyms and homophones can be used to create complicated linguistic constructs through lexical ambiguity. It has been discussed in literature in various forms since 1967, when it appeared in Dmitri Borgmann’s Beyond Language: Adventures in Word and Thought.
Sure, but that’s still only four words total, because rede->reed->read are all what I was referring to as homonyms (perhaps imprecisely), and the chain needs to go homonym-homograph-homonym-homograph etc.
Nice, but your homographs are not pronounced differently per OP’s stipulation. There words are all pronounced the same… except rows (fights) which then doesn’t work because it’s not a homophone with rose?