Friday, June 12, 2009

Duel Words -- Writer's Poke #231

"We couldn't have done it without a dual income." -- Carl Smith

Can you imagine making money from dueling? I think that's probably even better than earning a wage from playing Russian roulette.

Granted, "dual" and "duel" are homonyms, but a lot of words share the same letter sequence and hold quite different meanings.

There must be literally hundreds of these dual words, and here are just six off the top of my head: match, spring, fall, quarter, stroke, wave. And I bet it wouldn't take you very long to brainstorm another hundred or more.

In context, you can determine the right meaning of the word being referenced; and it's true that you can easily figure out that a word might change meaning depending on whether it's being used as a verb or a noun, etc. But still, it's fun to visualize the wrong use of the word, and think about how it totally changes the intended meaning of the sentence. Makes you feel sorry for all of the people trying to learn this crazy language...

Brainstorm as many words with multiple meanings as you can. Then, pick a few of these words and think about how you generally use the word. Does an alternative meaning of the word, or the word used as a different part of speech, help you gain insight into the way you usually use the word?

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