Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Close Word Groupings for Pause

Did you think I mean "close" as proximity or imperative? As the text is visual rather than aural, the pronunciation can be either, and the title's meaning ambiguous.

Various words seem to have at least visually related words that cause pause before I pick one for uttering or inserting in text. Some word "sets" apply maybe more for people that English is not their first language. This article lists mostly pairs of words that can cause misunderstanding because of picking the incorrect word. Context helps with the correct word selection. The trade-off is a time slowdown to assess the situation.

I've run across most of my hesitancy-inducing terms that I list while writing technical documentation or composing or answering email. Occasionally, I've run across some terms in a conversation, a TV show, or visual text that I read. For an example of pause-causing terms, think of this sample sentence and my use of "read" in the previous sentence. I used "example", "sample", and "read". "Read" is past tense in the context of my having used "I've run", although "read" can be present or past tense.

example, sample
In differentiating example from sample, an example serves as a pattern to imitate or not, per, and a sample is a representative part of something larger. If you take a morsel from a tray of same-items to taste, that's a sample. If I see a crowd of people and notice someone dressed especially neatly, the person is an example of someone well-dressed.

resent, re-sent
If I send email and state that I sent something again, I will always write "re-sent" and not "resent", differentiating the action from a word that has negative meanings. (From "to feel or express annoyance or ill will at".)

pane, panel
"Pane" and "panel" differ by only one letter, but I often got confused when I confronted style guides that referred to both terms. Even googling "pane vs. panel" leaves uncertainty. In thinking out loud, I arrived at "instrument panel" for menu option panels, and at "window panes" for separate sections that display on a graphic interface.

A style guide at a current workplace would be the best source. If not thinking technical writing use, think of context—visualize window pane and wood panel.

astronomy, astrophysics, astrology
Of the three star-pertinent words, the two most recognizable ones are astronomer and astrologer. Their occupations are, uh, worlds apart despite their (uh again) focus on celestial bodies. From "The difference between astronomy and astrology":
Astronomy is ‘the branch of science which deals with celestial objects, space, and the physical universe as a whole’. If you’re thinking about the academic study, stargazers, telescopes, and the like, then the word you need is astronomy.

Astrology, on the other hand, is ‘the study of the movements and relative positions of celestial bodies interpreted as having an influence on human affairs and the natural world’. If you are writing about people using stars or planets to predict favourable or unfavourable events happening to humans, then astrology is the correct word.

Astrology originally included the calculation of natural phenomena and meteorological events (such as the measurement of time and the times of tides and eclipses) that are now considered the domain of astronomy.
"What is Astrophysics?" explains the professional's field. (The most well-known astrophysicist in our time might be Neil deGrasse Tyson.)
Astrophysics is a branch of space science that applies the laws of physics and chemistry to explain the birth, life and death of stars, planets, galaxies, nebulae and other objects in the universe. It has two sibling sciences, astronomy and cosmology, and the lines between them blur.
cosmology (science), cosmetology (certain appearance enhancement)
"Cosmology is not Astronomy/Astrophysics" is a YouTube explanation of cosmology (study of the universe as a whole), with nod to astronomy (study of individual celestial bodies, such as stars and galaxies).

Cosmetology is a field of hair, skin, and nail care, with subfields with varying occupation titles. "Cosmetology" shows cosmetology example focuses—hair, skin, and nail care.
Cosmetologists work on hair, skin, and nails. Estheticians work on skin care only. From "What’s the Difference Between a Cosmetologist and an Esthetician?"
Cosmetology is an area of study and a career that focuses on hair, skin, and nails. Cosmetologists can do both hair and nails, or focus their careers in one area. In comparison, esthetics focuses on skin care only. An esthetician is not qualified to perform pedicures, cut hair, or work with hair chemicals. With additional training and education a cosmetologist can also be an esthetician. … However, estheticians are generally not cosmetologists. Most states require separate licensing for each career.
The make-up artist in "What Is the Difference Between Cosmetologists & Makeup Artists? : Makeup Tips & Application" explains the differences between the occupations and also touches on esthetician roles. She also states that make-up artists only apply items to skin, a more narrow scope than esthetician.

Close Enough
If adjective, "s" pronunciation.
If verb, "z" pronunciation.

"English Pronunciation, common mistakes, close" is a good video for presenting both pronunciations and contexts.

If adjective, "s" pronunciation.
If noun, "z" pronunciation.

Numerous YouTube videos pronounce with "s" without explanation. I found some videos that provide context for "closer" pronunciation. Examples:
Additional Items (Short Looks)
If present tense, long "e" pronunciation.
If past tense, short "e" pronunciation.

If present-tense, long "e" pronunciation. Coincidentally, past tense has short "e" sound, but is spelled "led" rather than "lead".
If noun (the metal or periodic table element), short "e" pronunciation.

If adjective (denoting very low-note type or types of musical instrument), long "a" pronunciation.
If noun (fish), short "a" pronunciation.

If noun for seasoning or spice plant, silent "h".
If noun for male's name, spoken "h".

If noun for element or material for making particular type of semiconductor, short "o" pronunciation.

If noun for certain rubbery and flexible material, long "o" pronunciation.

If noun for items joined together, long "u" pronunciation in the first syllable, short "u" in the second syllable. Examples: Union vs. Confederacy, Western Union.

If noun for the plant, short "u" pronunciation in the first syllable, short "u" in the second syllable. Examples: Green onion, Eastern Onion Singing Telegram.

If noun for the pureed chickpeas food, short "u" pronunciation in the first syllable, short "u" in the second syllable.

If noun for decayed material for plant food, long "u" pronunciation in the first syllable, short "u" in the second syllable.


JLF said...

Fascinating, Wanda. I love your fascination with precise communication and the likely misunderstandings that can occur if context is not obvious.

whilldtkwriter said...

Thx for comment! Pls visit additional language-related articles "Some Words (Homonyms) and Non-synonymous Antonyms" ( and "Contextual Train" (

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