(I – Eye) am fascinated by words that sound alike, are spelled differently and have very different meanings. These words are called homophones. When speaking, or barking as we sled dogs do, people and other dogs understand what we mean by context, that is considering the word along with the words used around it. When writing, which we sled dogs (except for me) don’t do so much, it’s the spelling of the word that gives meaning.
Here’s a rhyme that uses two words, weather and whether, that sound alike but have different meanings. “Whether the weather be cold or whether the weather be hot. Whether the weather be fine or whether the weather be not. Whatever the weather we’ll weather the weather, whether we like it or not.”
Here’s the sled dog version of another rhyme that uses the words where and tail. What would happen if ware or wear were substituted for where or tale was used instead of tail? “Oh where, oh where has my sled dog gone? “Oh where, oh where can he be? His ears stand tall and his tail is long, oh where, oh where can he be?”
Homophones can make writing very tricky. Is it whether or is it weather? Is it where, ware or is it wear? Is it tail or is it tale? Going back to the first paragraph, is it I or is it eye? Using the wrong spelling of the homophones turns the story into gibberish.
Here’s a story using several homophones. Can you select the correct word? Do your best to decide which spelling of the homophone is correct. After you’ve given it your best shot, click here for the answers to Sanka’s Sounds Alike #1.
During the Iditarod, sled dogs are quite happy to (see – sea) the Bering (See – Sea). Unalakleet is the first village on the Gold Coast. It marks mile 700 of the trail. By the time the dogs reach Unalakleet, with their (tails – tales) standing tall, there are many (tails – tales) to tell. Some stories might be about the (whether – weather), some stories might be about the trail and some stories might be about the wind and how it (blew – blue) along the Yukon River. Sometimes the sky is very (blew – blue) but the mushers and dogs can’t see the sky because of ground blizzards. This happens when strong winds blow previously fallen snow while it’s not really snowing. In this situation, the mushers can’t (see – sea) the trail so they depend on the (nose – knows) of the lead dog or dogs. The (knows – nose) (nose – knows) (where – ware – wear) the trail is.
Have fun with these words and maybe you’d like to try writing a story of your own using homophones from this story or other homophones. There are many other sounds alike words so stay tuned for other Sounds Alike Challenges.
Born to Run,
K9 Journalist for Iditarod
*Lesson Plan to be added soon.