It’s all English – isn’t it?

You think that I don’t even mean
A single word I say
It’s only words, and words are all
I have to take your heart away.”
So sung the Bee Gees way back in 1997.

I started to write my blog today feeling absolutely ghastly.  The cold that I have been nursing for 8 days has now morphed into an awful cough and all I wanted to do today was lie down with my book.  Waking up several times during the night didn’t make me bright eyed and bushy tailed this morning.  Fortunately, I only had to attend one of the open homes being run by my Real Estate friend.

But I made a commitment to myself some six months ago to post a blog every day so here goes.

Some time ago I read a blog from Robin entitled Shenks Ferry Wildflower Preserve that started me off on a different tack altogether.  Robin’s blog made me think of the different words in the English language that can have two definite and different meanings.  They often sound the same but may have different spellings.

  • Preserve – for me as I have said means a preserve or jam of fruits or vegetables. For Robin it meant a wildflower park.
  • Conserve – to prevent injury or waste or to make a conserve such as jams, pickles or chutney.
  • Bow – to bow down in homage or the bough of a tree.
  • Left as in direction and left as in ‘he left the store’
  • Address – where one lives and address as in making an address to the assembled people.
  • Close as near and close to shut
  • Permit – allow and permit as license
  • Incline – a small hill and incline towards something
  • Anchor – used to secure a boat or alternatively the shops that anchor a shopping mall ie a large variety or department store at each end of the mall or the newscaster.
  • Rebel – as in resisting authority and rebel the person resisting

And then of course we could open the can of worms of how the same words have different meanings to American and British people.

  • Purse – American handbag, British change purse
  • Vest – American sleeveless garment worn over clothes, British undergarment
  • Jelly – American jam and British equivalent of Jello

And different names for certain things.  For example, in a car

  • Gas in America = Petrol in Britain, New Zealand and Australia
  • Hood in America = Bonnet in Britain, New Zealand and Australia
  • Trunk in America = Boot in Britain, New Zealand and Australia

This didn’t set out to be a lesson in English grammar a subject in which I have always been interested.  But can you tell the difference between  homonyms – words that share the same spelling and the same pronunciation but have different meanings, eg bore and boar; homophones – words that sound the same however they are spelled eg whole and hole; and homographs – words that share the same spelling however they are pronounced eg content – happy or satisfied/all that is contained inside something.

As I don’t know where this is going I think I shall end there.  Hopefully my head will be in a better place tomorrow and the blog will make more sense.

But for now, please share my rainbow


My rainbow


31 responses to “It’s all English – isn’t it?

  1. Thanks for the rainbow! I love blogs about words and phrases–don’t forget singlet vs. tank top and jumper vs. sweater and biscuit vs. cookie etc,


    • Hi Thomas – how about vest vs waistcoat, lorry vs truck (although lorry is not used very often now), can vs tin and it just goes on. You’re wlecome to share my rainbow. Sun shining brightly again today in our corner of the world! 🙂


  2. This current round of colds seem to be particularly nasty. Two in the family here are still well under the weather 10 days down the track. Rest up, keep warm and take care of yourself Judith.


  3. Well done on posting despite feeling unwel. I always check you blog now because it gives me fod for thought, and this post is no exeption. From my perspective your effort was worthwhile. Thankyou


  4. thank you for a delightful ramble through word meanings. Now, go rest, rest, rest!


  5. Bee Gees rock!


  6. Hope you feel better soon.


  7. jacquelincangro

    It’s a wonder to me that anyone can learn English as a second language with all of the colloquialisms and differences between countries. Sometimes just one letter makes all the difference in the world.

    Hope you feel better soon!


  8. Pingback: Good Words « Walter Kitty's Diary

  9. Which witch ate eight Nome gnomes? 😀


  10. I’m sorry to hear you are a bit under the weather. Hope you are back to your bushy-tailed best soon. I trust Lotte is taking good care of you. Enjoyed your thoughts on words, and sharing the differences between meanings in relation to country.


  11. I follow the blogs of several English and South African and Australian English speaking bloggers. Besides the vocabulary matters you describe what I found most interesting is their use of, or more precisely even the knowledge of , certain American expressions that I would unique- historically and culturally and as a matter of idiomatic slang to the North American continent. And even these may be particular to limited geographic regions of the US. You can’t tell me Brits are reading American stuff. Is it TV that gives us this cross cultural knowledge?


    • Well Carl we are of course, flooded with American TV and so we (particularly the young) pick up idioms and use of language. And many of us do read American authors’ novels so perhaps we pick up some of the jargon from there.


  12. I love the rainbow!
    So many words in English have multiple meanings, this is probably why it is said to be the hardest language for people to learn, especially when coming from a foreign language to English.


    • You’re welcome to share my rainbow any time Sharon. I really don’t know how people learn English as a second language. But I read somewhere that Eskimos have a multiplicity of words for snow so maybe we are not alone in confusion.


  13. Thanks for the rainbow. 🙂
    Here’s a different alphabet thingy …
    Take a deep breath and cough with an ‘H’ rather than a ‘C’, it will hurt your throat less.
    It’s not as easy as it sounds, but it if you can do it, it works. 🙂


  14. I hope you are feeling better. The rainbow is beautiful, and I always enjoy reading about the different meanings of words depending on location. Location, location, location.


  15. English is such a funny language. It must be so difficult for those learning it as a second (or third, etc.) language.

    Your rainbow is beautiful. I hope you’re feeling better by now. 🙂


  16. I cant imagine how anybody would begin to learn it. And when I lived in Canada I often came across words that were used differently there to the way we use them and often spelled differently ie harbour and harbor, aluminium and aluminum, labour and labor etc.
    Glad you like my rainbow you are welcome to share it any time. 🙂


  17. Pingback: Playing With Words | I choose how I will spend the rest of my life

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