Yoga Body, a book by Mark Singleton---Add "dharma"

Steve Farmer saf at SAFARMER.COM
Thu Mar 10 05:15:54 UTC 2011

George Thompson writes:

> By the way, I ran the term "homonym" past my students today.  Most  
> of them,
> of course, didn't have a clue about what it meant.  But a few of  
> them did
> know that a homonym was a set of words  that sounded alike but that  
> meant
> different things.
> Are these students, art school students with no pretensions to being
> linguists, actually better linguists than Singleton of Doniger?

Maybe the Oxford English Dictionary rather than the students in your  
women's art school -- at least as you report their views -- might be  
viewed as a better authority?

As already noted, the primary definition of the word 'homonym' given  
in the OED is "The same word or name used to signify different things."

That is of course correct etymologically as well, as further reflected  
in the primary OED definition of 'homonymy', which the OED tells us  
refers to "the use of the same name for different things."

Only secondarily, and only in specialized use in linguistics, is a  
'homonym' equivalent to a 'homophone'. The OED defines (again  
etymologically correct) as "Applied to words having the same sound,  
but differing in meaning or derivation."

The terrible linguistic blunder you attribute to Singleton and Doniger  
here isn't a blunder.

One of the earliest English uses of the word 'homonym' mentioned in  
the OED is also correct both in usage and etymologically: "An  
equivocation, or word of diverse significations."

But deep down none of this has anything whatsoever with Mark  
Singleton's book or Wendy Doniger's review of it, which this totally  
pointless discussion has diverted attention from.

A terrible waste of time, and time to end it, unless you can actually  
come up with meaningful criticism of the book.

S. Farmer

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