Two uncommon words walk into a bar, arguing about whether they are homonyms, or homophones. No-one greets them by name, like Norm, on “Cheers,” because no-one recognises them.
In most cases of homonyms, people know one or both of the odd couple. Everyone knows both wait, and weight. Most are familiar with meet and meat, but mete might be a stranger. I recently ran into a pair of homophones that only word-nerds like me don’t need to be introduced to. Ladies and gentlemen – let’s have a big hand for the comedy duo of
FAIN AND FEIGN
FAIN: adverb – gladly, willingly – adjective – willing, glad, pleased, eager
FEIGN: imitate deceptively, make believe, pretend, put on an appearance of
Rather than argue about whether to call themselves homonyms, or homophones, they might better try to find another term to describe themselves. Far too many ‘Good Christians’ in the Bible Belt of the southern United States, particularly in Arkansas and Texas, get far too upset, ‘and don’t cotton to none of that there HOMO-anything!’
A not-out gay comedian was doing a tour of small cities in West Texas. Perhaps looking for a bit of one-night companionship, he engaged the waitress in a greasy-spoon diner, about the presence of local gay culture – clubs, favored restaurants, etc. She quickly and firmly informed him, “They ain’t no homosexuals in Texas. Not live ones, anyways.”
I would fain believe her, and I do not have to feign my distress.
The largest group of homonyms heteronyms includes AIR, ERR, E’ER, ERE, HEIR, AYR, AYRE, AYER and perhaps a Canadian EHer. I’ll be back in a couple of days. Be sure to join me, eh. 😉 😆