In the question "Is there a name for words which are pronounced differently depending on which definition is being used?" it was suggested by two people that when the word "fillet" is used to describe a thin strip of leather, it is a different word than when "fillet" is used to describe a thin strip of salmon, because the pronunciation differs.
The culinary pronunciation is "fil-AY," while the engineering pronunciation is "FILL-it."
This seems VERY strange to me. Especially because the pronunciation apparently doesn't differ in British English, even though it does in American English.
Are the phrases "salmon fillet" and "leather fillet" using two different words to describe a thin strip of material, even though they mean the same thing, and have the same etymology? It seems weird to think of a word essentially being a synonym to itself.
Also, if those two versions of "fillet" are different words, then are they the same word when they are being used by a British speaker?
This all seems very confusing.
In response to an email I sent to the editors of the online Mirriam-Webster Dictionary, I received the following reply (in part)
In the case of "fillet", I would argue that those are actually two different words. They may have the same etymology, but in current English they are homographs and heteronyms.
Joshua S. Guenter, Ph.D. Editor of Pronunciation
Although it initially seemed strange to me, I think I'm getting my head around how the "thin strip of material" definition of fillet is in the process of, or has finished, evolving from one word into two different words.
Thank you to all of you.