Homophones, Homographs, Homonyms · 24 July 2021

Homophones, homographs, and homonyms are interesting words in and of themselves.

When I was a kid, there were only homonyms. Those were words that sounded the same but had different meanings. They could be spelled the same. They could be pronounced the same. But they had different meanings. There, their, and they’re were and probably still are the epitome of homonyms. After all, people get those three mixed up all the time whether through not being able to English very well, or not being able to edit very well, or even just missing a typo every now and again.

Today, there are words to differentiate between words that sound the same but have different meanings or spellings (homophones), words that are spelled the same but have different meanings or pronunciations (homographs), and words that are either or both homophones and/or homographs (homonyms). Talk about confusing. Okay. Not confusing. Just more complicated than I remember. Like I said, back in the day, all those were called homonyms. Just like in definitions I just mentioned.

If you have been reading my blog for very long, you have probably seen me try to be clever using different homophones and homographs (what I would just call homonyms). I have passed off being clever in the past, and have even argued that the present is a present. I have said those things whether the weather outside was frightful or pleasant. And of course, I have used there, their, and they’re numerous times. Well, maybe not “they’re” since I do not like to use contractions in my writing. But do not get me started on that. (A completely different story. Which I have started. But who knows if I will finish. Ah well.)

At any rate.

Well, I thought there would be more to this blog post than a couple paragraphs and a couple hundred words. But then again, I do not suppose there are that many homophones, homographs, and homonyms out there. At least not interesting ones where you can use them both (or even more than two) in the same sentence when not talking about their usage in the English language.

By the way. Did you notice the improper usage of the word “English“ way up in the second paragraph. I do not know about you, but I am not fond of people changing nouns into verbs on the fly. It is a ludicrous practice and I would never do it. Okay. Maybe just the one time. Still, I think it odd when people nounify verbs and verbify nouns. Ah well. It is a practice that I do not want to practice.

Sorry that I got off the subject for a moment there.

Well to sum things up, remember that there are some things you can remember to differentiate between homophones, homographs, and homonyms. Remember that phones have to do with sound, so homophones have the same sound. Graphs have to do with pictures or looks, so homographs have the same spelling. And homonyms cover your bases because nyms is a different (Greek) way to spell names, which we all know can be spelled and sounded out in different ways by different people at different times in different places in different circumstances. So if you are ever in doubt whether you are talking about homophones (sound) or homographs (spelling) or just the weather (oops, not the weather), just use homonyms because you will be right. At least according to Merriam-Webster.

I hope that I have cleared up any confusion you might or might not have had about homophones, homographs, and homonyms. Or at least brought a little fun to Englishing.

© 2021 Michael T. Miyoshi

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Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda · 17 July 2021

Shoulda, woulda, and coulda are not in the dictionary, but they oughta be.

I am glad that I am not the dictionary police. After all, the keepers of the lexicon of the English language surely have their hands full. Just thinking about the different technology words that have come to be in the last twenty or thirty years is mindboggling. Modem, wifi, bitcoin, and a whole host of other words that I cannot even think of because they are just part of everyday language now. I know not all of those words make it into the dictionary, but many of them do. Like I said, I am just glad I am not the dictionary police.

Just like any ruling body, the keepers of the English language surely get criticized for what words actually do make the dictionary. Funner? Nobody even uses funner. At least nobody I know. Except when making fun of the word actually making it into the dictionary. “That was funner than…” Who even says that? Maybe a three year old learning the language. Sure it is cute then, but using funner as an adult? I cannot even imagine. (I do apologize to anybody who actually uses the word. But really. Funner?) Undoubtedly, the dictionary police receive many complaints about words that make or do not make the dictionary.

But back to shoulda, woulda, coulda.

I am sure shoulda, woulda, and coulda will never make the official English dictionary. But as a triplet, they certainly are an idiom.

“I really missed the boat on that one.”
“Shoulda, woulda, coulda.”

“Intel, Microsoft, Google, Facebook…”
“Shoulda, woulda, coulda.”

“I rue the day.”
“Shoulda, woulda, coulda.”

Now that I think about it, maybe the triplet is really one word. Shouldawouldacoulda. Maybe that should go in the dictionary as its own word. A word of missed opportunities. Or at least perceived missed opportunities. Shouldawouldacoulda.

I am sure nobody who edits dictionaries would ever consider such crazy notions as shouldawouldacoulda as one word or three. But that is not really my goal of writing about those words (or that word, if you will) in this blog post. I really do not care if those words make it. Even if they oughta.

In reality, I really did not have much to say. So I looked up essay topics. Really. (I cannot believe that there is even one website out there with essay topics, but there is. Then again, I cannot believe my website is still here. Then again…) Anyway. None of the topics called to me. So I just wanted to think about something else. Anything else besides college-entrance type essays. And then it came to me. I should just write about words. After all, I use words all the time.

Well, to make a short story a little longer (even though this is really the conclusion). I decided that I would just write about three words that should be in the dictionary. Maybe four (shoulda, woulda, coulda, oughta). Or maybe just two (shouldawouldacoulda, oughta). So if you are a keeper of the English language take note. Shoulda, woulda, and coulda oughta be in the dictionary.

‘Nuf said. (Probably more than enough.)

© 2021 Michael T. Miyoshi

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Starting Good Habits · 10 July 2021

Good habits are about as difficult to start as bad habits are to break.

If you have never had to break a bad habit, you must be perfect. Or a liar. Or both. Okay, you cannot be both. (Sorry the phrase “Or both,” just seems to follow any “one or the other” statement.) At any rate. Since we all have bad habits or at least have had a habit that we wanted to break, we know that the process is not something that is easy to do. It takes determination. It takes will power. (Actually, it usually takes won’t power.) And it takes determination. Yes, you need lots of determination.

The thing is that good habits are just as difficult to start as bad habits are to break. Of course, if you have a good habit that can replace a bad habit, you can kill two birds with one stone. Not that I would have you kill any birds, but that is a completely different story. But think about it. If you could take a bad habit and replace it with a good habit, you would stop doing the thing you do not want to do and start doing something you do want to do. It would be a win-win situation. Two birds with one stone. Perfect. (It would be a trifecta, but with only two things.)

There are times though when we just want to start something new. We want a new habit. That is where the story really starts.

If you are in the habit of starting or stopping habits, you have probably heard the saying that 21 days makes a habit. That is probably true. But where does 21 days start? Day one. You need to start somewhere, and day one is it. And believe it or not, day one tends to be the sticking point for anybody trying to start or stop a habit.

“I want to draw every day, but I just can’t seem to start.” Interpretation: “Day one is always scheduled for tomorrow, and tomorrow never comes.”

“I want to play the piano every day, but I just can’t find the time.” Interpretation: “I don’t have a piano.” Oops. Wrong interpretation. “My kids think I’m too loud.” Oops. Wrong interpretation again. “Day one is always scheduled for tomorrow, and tomorrow never comes.”

“I want to run a mile every day, but I just can’t seem to take the first step.” Interpretation: “It’s too cold and wet outside and I don’t really want to run that badly and I might catch a cold and I am already in shape because round is a shape.” Oops. “Day one is always scheduled for tomorrow, and tomorrow never comes.”

I am not making fun of anybody but myself for those are my excuses for the things I want to do. So I know that starting a habit is difficult. I know that the first day does not seem to come. So I found a way to trick myself. It happened by accident, but it seems to have worked so far.

The secret? Quit trying to start and just start. In fact, whatever the habit you are trying to start, start it in secret. Do not tell yourself that you are trying to start a habit. Just start playing the piano even though the kids think you are too loud. Just start drawing even though you do not have hours to sit and draw. Just start running even though it is cold outside. Actually, maybe start running in the spring when it is nice. But quit telling yourself you are going to start and actually start.

I know. It does not actually sound like much of a secret. But here is the kicker. After you have started doing whatever you want to start doing. After you have been doing it a few days. After you have stopped making excuses about not doing whatever it is you want to do. Then tell yourself that you want to start the habit. You read that right. Do not tell yourself that you are starting a new habit until you have actually started the habit. After the third or fourth or fifth or twentieth day, you can tell yourself that you are starting a new habit. The funny thing is that you will have already started the new habit. You will be on your way. You will be beyond the dreaded day one.

I know. It sounds crazy. But if it works for me, it could work for you too. When you do not let the right hand know what the left hand is doing, you can do great things. When you do not tell yourself that you are actually going to start a good habit, you can actually start that good habit.

Okay. There is one other secret. At least if you are trying to draw or practice a musical instrument or do anything else that you need hours and hours to master. (Which, by the way, is everything.) Just practice for five minute. Five minutes. Now, just five minutes a day might not seem like a lot, but it is infinitely longer than zero. I know. Math. But it is true. Just five minutes a day doing something you want to do anyway but can never find the time to do will not make you feel guilty that you are taking time away from something else that is important. The other thing is that you do not need to gear yourself up for five minutes a day. You just do it. And who knows. Five minutes could turn into much longer.

Okay. One other secret (which makes two secrets added to the first secret, which makes three secrets, if you are counting). The other secret is that you will not become a master with just five minutes a day, but nobody cares. Nobody cares that you are not a master at whatever you are trying to start a habit of doing. Nobody cares that you took up playing piano or drawing or knitting or whatever else your new habit might be. And nobody cares that you will not become a master at it because you are only doing it five minutes a day. So quit worrying about becoming a master. Who knows if you will ever become a master regardless of how many hours you put into something.

Well. That is about it. I hope I did not offend too many people by telling them to turn off the TV and start doing something they want to do. Wait. I never said that. Ah well.

There is no secret to starting or stopping a habit except to just start. And remember. Starting good habits is just as hard as stopping bad habits. But do it anyway.

© 2021 Michael T. Miyoshi

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