Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Did you know that a Mother is a homograph?

Ultronia Underwing with leaves of the English oak -7/22/07

Dark-banded Owlet 7/22/07 -- check out that dark band

These moths, and many others I've been posting on this site in recent years, were observed by a small group of Nature-lovers I call the Central Park Mothers.

A quick word about the word “Mother” as used above. The word is an example of a particular verbal oddity called a homograph. A more familiar verbal form is the homophone, one of two or more words that have different meanings and spellings but are pronounced in the same way. Word pairs like site and sight, or break and brake are homophones. Cents, scents and sense are a trio of homophones.

A homograph, on the other hand, is one of two or more words that have different meanings and pronunciations but are spelled the same. The word “sewer” is a homograph: when pronounced to rhyme with “bluer,” it’s the place where sewage goes; when it rhymes with “rower” it means one who sews. It's the same with the word "mother."

Most of the time people use it to refer to a maternal female whose name rhymes with brother. In the use I'm making when I post pictures of moths, however, the word rhymes with author.

The Central Park Mothers have been meeting for the last few weeks at their special moth-attracting tree, an English Oak not far from the Boat House restaurant. Though it seems to be oozing less sap this year [that's what attracts the moths] there have been a surprising number of moths arriving. The two pictured above were seen last Sunday. And one of them, the Dark-banded Owlet, has only been seen in the park once before, on May 9, 2004.