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I found this text on the internet:

We must polish the Polish furniture.
He could lead if he would get the lead out.
The farm was used to produce produce.
...
There was a bow tied in the ropes on the bow of the ship.
You should spring that on us next spring!

http://www.corsinet.com/braincandy/hlanguage2.html

Could you clarify the difference in pronunciation of the word spring in the last line?

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3 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

There's no difference between how the two springs are pronounced. The meanings are different, though: the first spring means "surprise (us) with"; the second is the season.

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so this line is an exception here? because the rest of the lines provide examples for words which are pronounced differently depending on the part of speech, that was my understanding –  Yarik Feb 12 '11 at 4:23
    
Yes, it's an exception; I looked at the link and all the rest of the examples show words with different meanings and pronunciations but identical spelling [there's a formal term for that which escapes me at the moment.] It's a good exercise, and I'm not sure why the last line was included. –  fortunate1 Feb 12 '11 at 4:30
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First, there is no difference in pronunciation of the two instances of spring in the last sentence of your example. True, it is the exception to the pattern in the preceding lines. And the meaning is different in each usage of spring.

Two words with the same spelling and same pronunciation, with different meanings, such as spring in your example, are Homonyms, see chart below.

All the other examples had the same spelling, different pronunciation and different meanings. They are Heteronyms.

This is probably a bit of overkill, but I like this kind of thing, and was excited to find this cool Venn diagram just now, so posted what is mostly a repeat of fortunate1's fine answer.

See Venn diagram from Wikipedia of terms for words with similar pronunciation, meaning and spelling, or any combination http://i.stack.imgur.com/sMlIE.png
I couldn't insert the image because I am new on the English Stackexchange site, sorry!

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The two words are not pronounced differently; they have a different meaning as spring (something) on means present or propose something suddenly or unexpectedly to someone, while spring (as noun) can mean the season (as in the example sentence) or have other meanings.

There are also two words that have a similar pronunciation (at least in American English): produce (verb) and produce (noun): The first is pronounced /prəˈd(j)us/, or /proʊˈd(j)us/; the second is pronounced /ˈprɑˌd(j)us/, or /ˈproʊˌd(j)us/. The difference between /proʊˈd(j)us/ and /ˈproʊˌd(j)us/ is where the primary accent is, and the presence of a secondary accent in place of the primary accent of the first word.

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A lot of two-syllable words (or identically spelled noun/verb pairs with matching meanings) are like that: "object", "subject", "reject", "retard", "defect". –  Malvolio Feb 19 '11 at 10:34
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