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Was reading an interview with Peter Greenaway last night and he was asked: “What’s the excitment of essentially halving the amount of information on the screen by mirroring it?” I just thought to myself I would certainly hear or understand the word, HALVING as if it was HAVING! How could one really differ these two when talking? They are pronounced just the same. And in this case both correct.

  • February 18, 2004
  • Posted by goossun
  • Filed in Usage

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As in your guestbook to include support html?

kjsdhkjhfdg January 30, 2006, 1:34am

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oops, I meant "having" not "have"

porsche January 24, 2006, 1:02pm

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You certainly ask an interesting question, but I have to disagree that " this case both correct." In the example you gave, if you substitute the word "have", then the sentence becomes nonsensical, so you CAN tell by the context, at least in this case.

But I am curious as to why you find this so unusual. There are many thousands of homonyms, or more specifically, homophones in the engish language. There are innumerable ways that truly ambiguous sentences can be constructed. Throw in homographs, words that are spelled the same, but have different meanings and sometimes different pronunciations, and it gets really interesting. Such ambiguity is often at the basis of poems literature, even art and music. This is often exploited in jokes as well.

For a little fun, see my previous post in
(Owed to a Spell Chequer)

porsche January 24, 2006, 1:01pm

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Both I (a native-born Californian) and my wife (a Midwesterner) pronounce the words slightly differently, although not nearly so differently as the difference between [a:] and [ae]. "Halve", for both of us, has the faintest trace of an "l" in the pronunciation--not an actual "l" but a slight modification of the "a" vowel to end farther back on the palate, and with a slightly higher palate. I'm not sure what this distinction is called phonetically.

Avrom January 23, 2006, 9:25pm

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Hi, why nobody responds me?

masatra44443 January 23, 2006, 1:42pm

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Hi! Do not prompt as me to send e-mail? = (

nhhy6654tgf January 19, 2006, 5:04am

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JBL is right about them sounding very different in Australia.

M Stevenson April 11, 2004, 1:47am

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There should be a longer duration for halving. Although, in the wonderful country of Australia (and the UK I suppose) the words sound different. :-)

JBL April 7, 2004, 3:29am

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Blend is correct in that pronunciation varies from country to country and even within countries. In my own speech (a very pure "baseline American" accent, according to a linguist I once dated) and in the speech of the Texans I live among, there is no difference between the two words at all.

speedwell2 March 1, 2004, 8:25am

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the vowel sound in "halve" is the sound [a:]. this is a long vowel sound and sounds something like the pronunciation of the word "are".

the vowel sound in "have" is the sound [ae]. this is a sound made by opening the mouth wider and producing the sound from the mouth (as opposed to producing it from the voice in the throat). it's the same sound as produced by the word "cat" or "hat".

but, then again, pronunciation will vary from country to country.

blend February 28, 2004, 3:41am

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it would if there WAS an "L" sound in "halving," which there is not.

speedwell2 February 27, 2004, 4:25pm

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'hal' + 'ving'

I think the 'L' sound makes all the difference here...

aquabelly February 27, 2004, 2:18pm

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Longer in duration, I think the previous poster meant. I have the same feeling. Still, the context would primarily decide this one. I would avoid it if I could... perhaps recasting as "dividing in half."

speedwell2 February 18, 2004, 3:47pm

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The "a" in <i>halving</i> should be longer, to my mind.

Eimear Ní Mhéalóid February 18, 2004, 12:45pm

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Yes     No