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Accent Reduction Blog

Heteronyms

Have you ever heard of a heteronym? Perhaps not by name, but we use them all of the time.

Heteronyms are actually words that are spelled identically but have different meanings when pronounced differently. Sometimes the meanings are completely different, whereas other times they have somewhat related meanings.

For example, let’s look at the word “estimate”. Pronounced as EStimit, it is used as a noun, as in, “We need to get an estimate of what the costs will be.” Pronounced as Estimate, it is used as a verb, as in “Let’s estimate the time it will take to build the house.”

Another example is in the word “produce”. Said as “PROduce”, it is a noun meaning fresh fruits and vegetables, as in “Let’s buy some fresh produce at the supermarket.” Pronounced as “pruhDUCE”, it is a verb which means to bring into existence, as in, “The company will produce a new model car next year.”

There are a surprising number of heteronyms in the English language. The following is a good website to help you discover more of these heteronyms, and how to pronounce them.

http://www-personal.umich.edu/~cellis/heteronym.html

About the Author

Derra Huxley, M.A.Derra Huxley is a California licensed Speech-Language Pathologist in Los Angeles having earned both Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees in Communicative Disorders from California State University, Northridge. You can also find her on , Twitter and Facebook. She specializes in Accent Modification, having been trained and certified to utilize the nationally acclaimed Compton P-ESL Program through the Institute of Language and Phonology. She has worked with adults with varying degrees of accents from around the globe to improve their pronunciation of English.View all posts by Derra Huxley, M.A.