A homograph is one of a group of words that share the same spelling but have different meanings. When spoken, the meanings are sometimes, but not necessarily, distinguished by different pronunciations. A homograph can be either a
homonymor a heteronym.
:(1):shift "n". (a change)
shift "n". (a period at work)
shift "v". (slang for 'move it')
In (1) all three words are identical in spelling and pronunciation (ie they are also
homophones), but differ in meaning and function. These are commonly described as different senses of the same word, but if a word is regarded as a unique idea separate from its orthography and pronunciation then they are two different words.
:(2):read /riːd/ (present)
read /red/ (past)
(2) is an example of two words spelt identically but pronounced differently. Here confusion is not possible in spoken language.
Homograph disambiguation is critically important in
speech synthesis, natural language processingand other fields.
In typography, "homograph" is sometimes used as a synomym for
Homography, a concept in geometry. A homography matrix is sometimes known as a homograph.
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