Homographs, heteronyms, and a love affair with the English language

I’ve always loved words, and ever since I was a kid I’ve been fascinated by the structure and content of the English language. Take, for example, the delicacy and precision of homographs and heteronyms. The former are words with the same spelling but with two or more different meanings; the latter are homographs which are pronounced differently.

For example:

The nurse wound the bandage round the wound.

The farm was used to produce produce.

The rubbish dump was full, so they had to refuse to accept any more refuse.

The soldier decided to desert in the desert.

The insurance was invalid for the invalid.

The oarsmen had a row about the best way to row.

They were too close to the door to close it.

The buck does funny things when the does are nearby.

The wind was too strong for the yachtsman to wind in the sail.

And how about this:

As a birthday present, Sarah bought a painting to present to her boyfriend. He did not object to the object, although he did decide to subject the subject to a test. It was then that he saw the tear in the canvas and shed a tear, wondering how he could intimate this to his most intimate friend.

And the miracle is that a reasonably well educated schoolchild would understand that paragraph. How clever is that?

PS: The above is not entirely original, but I can’t remember where I found it: if it’s yours, let me know and I will give you a credit.

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