Growing up in a bilingual home setting, I was very lucky to learn both Spanish and English from a young age. I never had to think much about what I said in either language, I just said what “made sense”. But, whenever I would speak to non-English speakers and they would ask me the why certain words or phrases were said in a particular way in the English language, many times I was stumped for an answer. While most languages have clear cut rules and definitions, English seems to be one of the few where sometimes the rules don’t exist or plain don’t make sense.
Why for instance, when changing a noun to the plural, do the rules vary regarding each noun? Why is the plural of “mouse”, “mice” and why isn’t the plural of “moose” not “meese”? Logically, that would be the clear choice, but in fact, the plural of “moose” is just that…“moose”!
This got me thinking about the different words in English that are spelled the same, but pronounced differently from each other. In Spanish, as well as in other languages, accent marks are the key to correct pronunciation and target meaning. In this language, words are sounded out just as they are written. Not so in the English language. Let’s observe a few words in English known as Heteronyms; words that are written identically but have a different pronunciation and meaning.
A) Wound-This noun, pronounced “woond”, refers to an injury, while “wound”, the verb, pronounced just as it is spelled, means to change direction or to bend (it is the past tense of the word “wind”).
B) Desert-This noun, pronounced “dez-ert”, refers to a dry area due to little rainfall. The verb form of this word is pronounced “dih-zurt” and means to abandon something or someone.
C) Lead-This word as a noun, pronounced “led” refers to the bluish-gray metal while the verb, pronounced “leed” means to influence, or to guide in direction.
Looking at these words, and many like it, accent marks on certain vowels would seem like the perfect fix, but, as confusing as it may be to learn the English language at times, remember, practice makes perfect!
Most definitions taken from http://dictionary.reference.com/