Hot answers tagged homophones
The word is eggcorn a word or phrase that results from a mishearing or misinterpretation of another, an element of the original being substituted for one which sounds very similar. We even have an eggcorn tag.
Since a homophone is defined as: Each of two or more words having the same pronunciation but different meanings, origins, or spelling, e.g., new and knew. I guess that means that may ("allowed to"), May (the month), and Mae (the female name) are homophones.
Dictionaries have long had to contend with this issue. The word run, for example, has 50 or so meanings as a verb, and another 30 or so as a noun, but they all are grouped under one single dictionary entry. On the other hand, bow has three separate entries. Most print dictionaries denote this using superscripted numerals for each separate entry, much like ...
The English surname, Hoo, has a nice (and old) lineage: Hoo Howe is usually a surname Howe, but many give a surname to offspring. Howe Hoo? (I don't know how BrE pronounces Hugh, but in AmE, it's not "who", it's more like "h+you")
Note that homophones are tricky. Since the definition relies on pronunciation, and that varies with dialect, words that are homophones in one part of the English-speaking world may not be in others. Sometimes even in nearby places. For example, where I live cot and caught are homophones. Even that statement is a bit extreme, as I had some friends growing up ...
I don't think one can attempt to answer the question as is. By definition, if you merge, in production two sounds in your own dialect with respect to another (or rather rewrite one sound to an existing one), then two words that started in the standard dialect as different but are pronounced the same in the dialect are by definition indistinguishable ...
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