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HETEROGRAPHY

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HETEROGRAPHY

Postby Dr. Goodword » Mon Nov 07, 2005 9:29 pm

• heterography •

Pronunciation: he-têr-ah-grê-fi • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, mass (no plural)

Meaning: 1. A nonphonetic or inconsistent spelling system: the use of the same letter to convey different sounds (as the C in city and candy) or different letters to express the same sound, as spelling the sound [s] C in city and S in sea. 2. An aberrant or unusual spelling, as m-i-l-c-h for milk or l-y-t-h-e for lithe.

Notes: The spelling system of a language is its orthography, Greek for "correct or true writing". The trueness of writing systems varies greatly and, as we have pointed out before, English orthography is dismally heterographic, to use the adjective for today's Good Word. Be sure to reassure your children, as they learn how to spell English words, that their difficulty is not their fault.

In Play: Heterographically speaking, in other words, English is a world leader: "Speaking of English heterography, I have never understood the purpose of the –ugh in though or thought." Many nations periodically introduce spelling reforms that update the spelling systems of their languages, as Germany recently did. English, however, is spoken by large populations in several different countries (Australia, Britain, Canada, India, New Zealand, the US, and South Africa), so agreement on any change is highly unlikely.

Word History: Today's Good Word is a fairly recent combining of heteros "different, the other of two" + graph- "write" + ia, a noun suffix. The root graph- has a fascinating family history. The patriarch of this family is PIE *gerbh- "to scratch". In the Germanic languages it underwent metathesis, switching the position of the [e] and the [r], leading to English crab, a beast that can deliver an excellent scratch. As the rules of scratching were honed into languages, the same stem produced the stem of grammar. This is a word we will return to someday, to explain how it became glamour! (Right now we have to scratch a note of thanks to Pierre Laberge for suggesting this very, very Good Word.)
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Postby M. Henri Day » Sat Nov 19, 2005 2:52 pm

You educated chaps are, as usual, just trying to confuse the issue ! Consider, for example, the related term «homography». Eric Weisstein defines it as

A circle-preserving transformation composed of an even number of inversions.


This, like Dr G's definitions above, is nothing but pure and simple obfuscation, designed to throw decent people off the track ! From the origins, it's plain as the nose on my face what these two terms really mean : homography is when one scratches somebody of the same sex, heterography one of the opposite sex. Both sound more than a little perverted to me, and I can't understand why the censor doesn't eliminate them from polite discourse....

Heterographically yours,

Henri
曾记否,到中流击水,浪遏飞舟?
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Postby gailr » Sat Nov 19, 2005 8:53 pm

Henri, whatever will you make of the collector of autographs?
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Postby M. Henri Day » Sun Nov 20, 2005 6:12 am

I can only refer to Genesis 38 : 9-10 :

ille [Onan] sciens non sibi nasci filios introiens ad uxorem fratris sui semen fundebat in terram ne liberi fratris nomine nascerentur

et idcirco percussit eum Dominus quod rem detestabilem faceret


Roma locuta, causa finita !...

Henri
曾记否,到中流击水,浪遏飞舟?
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