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Uploaded:2019-11-22
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It's neat that we have all of these words for words, but when you put a linguist in charge, you would think that THEY WOULD DO A BETTER JOB!!!

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Good morning John,

Okay. I found out something and I can’t shut up about it so you’re gonna have to deal with me.

A desert island is not a desert island by which I mean a desert island can be lush and covered with water with big rainforest trees. It is not an island that is a desert. It is desert, an adjective that I have been using my whole life without knowing that it exists.

Desert means uninhabited or deserted.

This word (d-e-s-e-r-t) has 4 different definitions and 2 different pronunciations:

1. Desert (noun)- a place without much water.

Desert, 2, (adjective)- uninhabited.

Desert (verb)- where you abandon something like you’re a deserter.

And 4, desert (noun)- the thing you deserve.

Another word I’ve been using wrong my whole life without knowing it exists. When I say you got your just deserts, I don’t mean you got your tasty, after-meal treat; in this case, just means, like, your fair and deserts means the things you deserve. So, the just part of this idiom is completely irrelevant because every desert is something that is just- it is what you deserve definitionally. [Hank is visibly angry]

And all of this is to say nothing of desert with the extra s- the delicious thing that you eat after you’re done with dinner.

This led me into a place that was terrible and you won’t find out why until the very end. But, of course, it being English, we have words for all of these things; we have words for words that sound or look like each other but don’t mean the same thing.

So, there are 3 things here that words might have in common: there’s the meaning, there’s how they sound and there’s how they’re spelled. Now, in this situation, we’re talking about words that all have different meanings so I’m just going to discard that for now and talk about the suffixes that we use for words that have different meaning but are pronounced the same or are written the same:

When we’re talking about pronunciation, we’re talking about how they sound so we use the suffix phone.  And when we’re talking about how they look, we’re talking about writing so we use the suffix graph.

And then, we have our prefixes. We have hetero for different and homo for same.

So, a homophone is something that sounds the same but has a different definition and a homograph is something that looks the same but has a different definition.

And then, you have the word that we talk about, which is homonym, and that’s when both of those things are true.

So far, this makes sense; it’s not super easy to get your head around but it makes sense. 

Homonym- same pronunciation, same spelling but different meaning like desert [meaning a place without much water] and desert [meaning uninhabited] and all homonyms are also homophones and homographs.

But, some words are only homophones and some words are only homographs like desert [meaning where you abandon something] and desert [meaning the delicious thing that you eat after you’re done with dinner]. They sound the same but they’re spelled different and this means that they are also something called a heterograph meaning they look different.

And then my friends, there are things that are spelled the same but sound different- homographs like desert [meaning a place without much water] and desert [meaning where you abandon something]. These things sound different- they are heterophones- and they are called heteronyms. This took me half an hour of my life to figure out- why aren’t they called heterophones!

John, I’ll see you on Tuesday.

Also, we recently did a thing where there was a map and you could put a pin in it and tell us where you live for when we’re going on tour- and it broke. So, we had a bunch of pins and it was beautiful, I really enjoyed looking at it but now it is no longer useful data- I don’t know what happened: so, there’s a link to a form in the description. Please fill it out, let us know where we should come when we go on tour next. We’re gonna have a weird and fantastic time wherever we end up going but we need to know where to go. Thanks.