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Mask vs masque

  • Mask and masque are two 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. 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 words to, too and two, or horse and hoarse, are indistinguishable from each other 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. We will examine the different meanings of the homophonic words mask and masque, the word origin of the terms, and some examples of their English usage in sentences.


     

    A mask is a device that covers or partially covers one’s face. A mask may be worn to disguise one’s identity for criminal purposes, for recreation, or as entertainment. The word mask is also used figuratively to mean something that conceals a person like a cosmetic. Mask may also mean to conceal a particular trait that a person has or a person’s true personality or motives. Mask is used as a noun or a verb, related words are masks, masked, masking. The word mask is derived from the Middle French word masque, meaning to protect or hide one’s face.

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    A masque is a specific type of entertainment that was popular in the English court in the 1500s and 1600s. A masque involved singing, dancing, and acting on an elaborate stage set. Though professional actors were hired to perform in the masque, members of the court often appeared in the production wearing a mask. Today, the word masque may refer to this form of entertainment, a verse written for this type of entertainment, or a masquerade. Another popular use of the word masque has arisen fairly recently to mean a particular type of beauty treatment involving applying clay to one’s face. The word masque is also derived from the Middle French word, masque, and is only used as a noun.

    Examples

    ‘The Masked Singer’: Who Was Under the Penguin Mask? (The Hollywood Reporter)

    Frederick police have released new details in the case of a man who wore a costume-style mask and demanded employees place cash in an orange plastic pumpkin bucket during a bank robbery on Halloween. (The Frederick News Post)

    “He wore a mask of one thing, but actually what was going on behind the scenes was that he was attentive to her because he was trying to get as much information about her as possible,” Richards said. (Oxygen Magazine)

    Special events include Masque and Poetry with Ginny Lowe Connors, June 29 and July 6, 3 p.m.; and Masque and Music with Nekita Waller, CT State Troubadour: July 5, 7-9 p.m. (The Register Citizen)

    Thankfully, everyone’s favorite affordable skin-care brand is here to rectify that with The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Masque, a clay-based treatment that clocks in at just $12. (Allure Magazine)


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