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My research involves the study of word frequency in American English and the importance of context when connecting text representations to different speech representations.

I would like to know if there exists any homographs in the English language, with one preposition pronunciation and one non-preposition pronunciation.

A Homograph is defined as:

one of two or more words spelled alike but different in meaning or derivation or pronunciation (such as the bow of a ship, a bow and arrow)

It is known that prepositions do not occur at the end of sentences as frequently as other parts of speech. It is also known that that American English frequently uses high rising terminals to indicate the end of a sentence.

The purpose of [the word I am asking for] is to help illustrate the importance of context when connecting text representations to different speech representations. For example, consider a homograph with two different pronunciations and multiple possible intonations. Given [the word I am asking for] is at the end of a sentence, we can infer the more likely pronunciation corresponds to the word more frequent with a high rising terminal.

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    Examples? (Prepositions can be at the end of a sentence.) Jun 13, 2022 at 1:40
  • It is not perfect, which is why I say likely and rarely. I think the example as described should be sufficient to convey the importance of context.
    – Joseph
    Jun 13, 2022 at 1:43
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    What example? What homograph? What pronunciations? And what language are you talking about -- English doesn't have sounds or words or phrases that have distinctive ot intonations. What are you talking about? Actual examples, please, not vague descriptions. Jun 13, 2022 at 1:59
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    Voting to close as unclear what you're asking. Your question makes no sense to me because the constraint that a preposition can't be the last word in a sentence is out of step with modern usage. Jun 13, 2022 at 4:16
  • Had a friend from Vietnam whose name was On.
    – Jim
    Jun 13, 2022 at 4:21

3 Answers 3

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Pace

Verb, /peɪs/, meaning "walk at a steady and consistent speed". (Also a noun with a related meaning).

Preposition, /ˈpɑˌtʃeɪ/, meaning "With due respect to (someone or their opinion), used to express polite disagreement or contradiction".

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One preposition with a difference in pronunciation between a stressed and unstressed version is 'for'. At a glance, it would seem that at the end of a sentence, it would always be stressed, whereas the default pronunciation when it has an NP dependent would be the unstressed version.

American Heritage Dictionary

for (fôr; fər when unstressed)

Usually unstressed:

He ran for senator. [fər]

Almost always stressed:

It was senator that he ran for. [fôr]

Of course, the unstressed version may always be stressed for emphasis or clarity's sake.

It was a bit hard to tell exactly what you were looking for, so the above is a stab in the dark.

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  • The two word versions having the same possible pronunciation is not ideal, but this is pretty good example of what I am trying to convey through context. If there are no homographs with distinct pronunciations, I may go with this.
    – Joseph
    Jun 13, 2022 at 6:18
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Aside from strong and weak forms of prepositions (at /æt/–/ət/, for /fɔːʳ/–/fəʳ/, etc.), absent is pronounced /ˈæbsᵊnt/ when it's an adjective or preposition and /æbˈsɛnt/ when it's a verb.

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  • Note that because absent is a transitive verb, the verb form is nearly as unlikely to be at the end of a sentence than the preposition. Jun 13, 2022 at 12:30

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