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Burger vs burgher

  • Burger  and burgher are commonly confused words that are pronounced in the same way but are spelled differently and have different meanings, which makes them homophones. Homophones are a group of words with different spellings, the same pronunciations, and different meanings. Homophones exist because of our ever-changing English language and are a challenge for those who wish to learn to speak English. It can be difficult to learn how to spell different words that sound the same, and homophones are commonly misused words. Said aloud, the difference is less important, because the words are pronounced the same. The way the spelling and definitions differ can be confusing even to native English speakers when attempting to learn vocabulary correctly. Proper pronunciation of spoken English may help the listener distinguish between homophones and understand the correct spelling; the words affect-effect are a good example, but the word pairs to, too and two, bridle and bridal, creek and creak, hoard and horde, toed and towed, or horse and hoarse, are indistinguishable from each other and are easily confused and are commonly misused. Pronunciation is usually more ambiguous, as English pronunciation may vary according to dialect, and English spelling is constantly evolving. Pronunciation may change even though the spelling doesn’t, producing two words that are pronounced in the same manner but have different meanings such as night and knight. Phonological spelling and spelling rules do not always work, and most people avoid misspelling by studying vocabulary words from spelling lists, enhancing their literacy skills through spelling practice, and learning words in English by studying a dictionary of the English language. English words are also spelled according to their etymologies rather than their sound. For instance, the word threw is derived from the Old English word thrawan, and the word through came from the Old English word thurh. Homophones are confusing words and are commonly misspelled words because of the confusion that arises from words that are pronounced alike but have very different usage and etymology. A spell checker will rarely find this type of mistake in English vocabulary, so do not rely on spell check but instead, learn to spell. Even a participant in a spelling bee like the National Spelling Bee will ask for an example of a homophone in a sentence, so that she understands which word she is to spell by using context clues. Homophones are often used in wordplay like puns. We will examine the different meanings of the homophonic words burger and burgher, the word origins of the terms, and some examples of their English usage in sentences.

     

    A burger is a ground patty used in cooking. Typically, a burger is made of beef, but the term has been applied to turkey, soy, etc. The word burger is an abbreviation of the word hamburger and has been used in American English since the 1930s.

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    A burgher is someone who lives in a town or borough. Usually a burgher is a prosperous member of the middle class. In Sri Lanka, the word Burgher is capitalized and means an ethnic group that is descended from Europeans. The word burgher comes from the Dutch word, burgher, and means from the castle.

    Examples

    This 30-year old fast-casual burger chain announced this week that it has signed a deal to open three new locations in the Memphis area. (Commercial Appeal)

    These easy chicken burgers are topped with the works: lettuce, tomato, ketchup, mustard and crispy barbecue-flavored potato chips. (Good Housekeeping Magazine)

    The inept but much-reproduced engraving on the front of the First Folio cartoonishly depicts a plump, “drastically bald” (Charles Nicholl) man whose giant head rests on a white collar as if on a platter; while the quill-clutching genius of Stratford’s memorial bust has been widely mocked as resembling a dyspeptic local burgher doing his accounts. (The Guardian)

    ’Just Call me Dennis’, a biography of a living sports legend penned by Nilanga Jayawickrema, was launched at the Burgher Recreation Club amongst an august gathering. (Sunday Times)


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