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Homophones, Homographs and Synonyms in Spanish


Hello :)

I am currently participating in a research project in linguistics. In order to study the effect of polysemic words in Spanish, we tried to create a list of homographs (words written and pronounced the same way, but having different meanings), homophones (words pronounced the same way but spelled differently) and close synonyms.

Here are a few examples that we found:

Tienda : shop/tent
Flamenco : dance/bird
Cometa : kite/comet
Vela : sail/candle
Muñeca : wrist/doll


Close synonyms
Oliva/Aceituna : olive
Anillo/Sortija : ring
Pelota/Balón : ball
Pelo/Cabello : hair
Estudiante/Alumno : student

We're trying to make big enough lists in order to be able to run the study. That's where I need your help: by asking to a lot a people, I believe that we'll be able to create those lists.

Ideally, the words would match material objects or verbs (actions) ; and a word will not be taken into account if not known by the majority of the (European) Spanish speakers. Synonyms should also be of the same language level.

Anyway, don't hesitate to propose any word that crosses your mind, I will then try to take the best ones.

Thanks a lot!

It seems you're making this very hard by having selected European Spanish. A language like English has a lot more homophones due to the messy spelling, while Spanish has much more consistent spelling (generally a good thing) making it harder to design a study like this, and more importantly possibly meaning that speakers would have fewer cognitive effects of this type, while English speakers are known to have major cognitive effects based on organizing vocabulary based on spelling. (Actually testing Spanish like this could be a good comparison for that reason but doesn't make the experiment easier to design.) Furthermore, using Latin American Spanish or other dialects (including some in Spain, such as Andalucian), would allow you to find many more orthographic mergers with c/z=s. This is a known topic at least anecdotally for testing spelling of some, especially colloquial, words in Latin America, such as the difference between voz and vos (where that informal pronoun is used).

That said, I will let you know if I think of any homophones. Have you thought about any English borrowings or brand names? (That might introduce additional complexity for the experiment, though.)

Finally, why not take advantage of something Spanish has not found in English, specifically the use of accent marks? That is, you could compare hablo/habló, or similar pairs (maybe where the meaning is more different, not just grammatical) to study something that can only be tested in a language where that is a factor. And many Spanish speakers don't bother writing the accent marks on the internet, for example, so it might be interesting to see how they process the differences. (I want to emphasize that I think experiments not studying English are great, because there's such a research bias for English; I'm just thinking about whether something more applicable or common in Spanish could be included.)

Some suggestions:

americana: American woman/jacket
llama: flame/llama
toro: bull/torus
población: town/population
radio: radio/radius/radium


Thanks for your answer.

I too think that English seems to be a ready-made language for this kind of task; however as we're working in Spain, we need to create a task for Spanish speakers (and because of that, we can't use Central/South-American words).
I'll see about borrowings, thing is the words need to be pronounced the same way for a Spanish speaker.


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