occasional observations on English pronunciation features, phonetics, teaching and learning
Thursday, 21 February 2013
You are certainly familiar with the concept of homophony and know loads of English homophonous words, phrases or even sentences such as
Today I'm going to look at quasi-homophones in English and German, i.e. words which have very similar sound structures in the two languages. Here's an example. It's an advert by a German local street cleaning company. Translated literally the text says "we sweep for you", but the pun exploits the sound similarity between English care and German kehr, the imperative form of kehren (to sweep).
credit: Berliner Stadtreinigung
Not all such pairs are puns. Some are genuine English words imported into the German language and, whether you regret it or not, are tied into the corset of the German sound system. Others are similar by mere chance. Here are some goodies: