Thursday, 23 June 2011

Homophones (sound alikes)

There is another common but false belief amongst Spanish speakers about their language. They say that unlike English, Spanish contains no homophones (words that sound the same but are spelt differently and have different meanings). Admittedly there are many times more homophones in English than Spanish, due to Spanish being a phonetic language, but I have still managed to find a few examples:-

hecho (done, fact) vs. echo (1st person of echar - to throw, cast, put)
ha (2nd person sing. of haber – to have) vs. a (to, at)
hola (hello, hi) vs. ola (wave)

These examples rely on the silent ‘h’, there are others which might depend on the regional accent, as in most places ‘v’ and ‘b’ sound alike, and in some places ‘ll’ and ‘y’ do as well. In Latin America the ‘z’ and soft ‘c’ both sound like ‘s’ rather than being lisped like in Spain, so there are words like ‘la olla’ and ‘la hoya’ (the pan and the river bed), tubo and tuvo (tube and 3rd person past tense of tener – to have), or ‘la casa’ and ‘la caza’ (the house and the hunt) which might sound identical or merely similar depending where you are.

No comments:

Post a Comment