Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Mondegreens and eggcorns

The English language is full of words that sound alike and are spelled the same, which can lead to confusion.

Homonym: [noun] each of two or more words having the same spelling or pronunciation but different meanings and origins (e.g. beat (v.) and beat (n.))

Homophone: [noun] each of two or more words having the same pronunciation but different meanings, origins, or spelling (e.g. new and knew)

Homograph: [noun] each of two or more words spelled the same but not necessarily pronounced the same and having different meanings and origins (e.g. does (v.) and does (pl. n.))

The definitions were taken directly from the Oxford English Dictionary Online (and, where possible, from the Canadian version).

So why did I bring up these definitions? Because they can lead to a few types of mistakes, two of them being mondegreens and eggcorns.

Ever listen to a song and hear the wrong lyrics? That is called a mondegreen. You can read about how the term was coined and a few other examples in the mondegreen wikipedia article. There are whole websites dedicated to these, and they're great to read through to see what you, and others, mishear.

Here is an example: Instead of hearing There's a bad moon on the rise from "Bad Moon Rising" by CCR, people think they hear There's a bathroom on the right. Check out here, here and here for more mondegreens.

These are also related to eggcorns, where the word you are writing is replaced by a word or words that sound alike. (The term eggcorn came about when someone tried to write acorn and it came out as egg corn. Read the stories of how it came about on Language Log, a linguistics blog with many contributors.) If you want to see more, visit the Eggcorn Database.

Have fun passing the time!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

There, their and they're...

This should be a simple thing to remember and follow, but I see these used improperly all over the place...

There: [adv] basically indicating a location. There are a few other uses, please see the full listing here.

Their: [poss. adj/pron.] indicating a possession. Details here.

They're: [contr.] a contraction of they are

There, standing with their umbrellas, are four men wondering where they're going to eat lunch.

Not a great literary piece, but hey, it gets the point across.... I hope. Please keep them straight!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Fonts by moustache

I just found an awesome guide to Typestaches! It is pretty sweet and now the fonts are personified.

Via here.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Discreet and discrete

Another word post:

Discreet and discrete are pronounced exactly the same, so you have to go with context to figure out which one is meant. 

Discreet: [adjective] careful and prudent, especially when trying to keep a secret

Discrete: [adjective] individually separate and distinct

So when trying to sneak by someone or trying to not to say something embarrassing, you are discreet.
And when you have separate things going on, you have discrete variables (especially used in math)

The definitions are loosely based on the Oxford Canadian English Dictionary

Monday, August 16, 2010

Stationary and stationery

Ok, so there is a difference between these two words and it'd be lovely if we could all remember it. If we can't, here is a little reminder for us:

Stationary: [adjective] not moving or not intended to be moved
Where you stand still or something doesn't move.

Stationery: [mass noun] for writing and other office materials
To be found in a store where you can buy pretty paper and such.

Clear now? Excellent!

A new blog

I figure Wet Ink Blog will be about language, art, and anything else I think of!