hom·o·phone [hom-uh-fohn]: A word pronounced the same as another but differing in meaning, whether spelled the same way or not. Courtesy: www.dictionary.com.
Back in middle school we were given some common examples to illustrate this phonetic term: “carat” and “carrot”; “two” and “too”; “there” and “their”, to name a few. I’d like to introduce a new, more relevant example that is applicable in my adult life: “wine” and “whine”.
Wine is a delicious beverage that often encourages feelings of happiness and relaxation. It can be red, white, or pink, but careful consideration must be given to the pink variety as it can be tricky… Wine can vary greatly in price, but my experience typically falls in the “$10 or less” category. Wine is a bright spot in one’s day; the more wine, the brighter the day becomes, until things turn hazy and that means there’s been too much.
Oh how things change when you add one single letter – h – to that lovely word: wine becomes whine. Whine is also a regular occurrence in my life, yet it does not lead to feelings of happiness or relaxation. It comes in one variety only: annoying. If I could pay to make it stop I would definitely branch out of the “$10 or less” bucket. But unfortunately it is a free service provided by my toddler, one from which I cannot unsubscribe, much like junk mail and the Yellow Pages book that still shows up on my doorstep.
It should be noted that there is a distinct cause-and-effect element in play. Whine (the bad kind) very often leads to wine (the good kind). Unfortunately that’s not appropriate at 7:45 on a Monday morning, but sometimes I wish it was. In the evenings, however, a good dose of whine may be matched by a good dose of wine. And that’s what makes homophones fun.