Homophones: scents, sense, cents & since

Discussion in 'English Only' started by tom_in_bahia, Aug 15, 2007.

  1. tom_in_bahia Senior Member

    Teixeira de Freitas, BA, Brasil
    South Florida/Phoenix-Tucson/the Adirondacks. Native of North American English
    I wanted to get a general idea from other native speakers as to whether or not the following four words are homophones in your pronunciation:

    sense - Animals have a sixth sense.
    scents - The scents of the perfumes were amazing.
    cents - I only have one dollar and five cents.
    since* - Since it's raining, I'll probably just stay home.

    I say these four the same way just as I would say there, their, and they're the same way.

    My prediction is that most English speakers say the first three as homophones, but the last one (since*) may only occur as a homophone of the others in speakers from the Northeast of the US, the Great Lakes area, perhaps New York City and maybe Ontario...let's see.
  2. tepatria Senior Member

    Onondaga, Ontario
    Canadian English
    I would pronounce cents and scents the same, sense has no t, so there is a slight difference. Since is different from all three. Whether this is Southern Ontario or the influence of my BE early childhood, I do not know. My husband, a Quebec anglophone says the first three are pretty much the same, while the since is different.
  3. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    For me, scents, sense and cents (but not since) are homophones.

  4. tom_in_bahia Senior Member

    Teixeira de Freitas, BA, Brasil
    South Florida/Phoenix-Tucson/the Adirondacks. Native of North American English
    I'm really trying to figure out why all my /In/s are /En/s or something close...since is one example, but also continue. In reality, I don't think it's an authentic open e, and I would venture to say it's something in between. I would also say convince as though it were convence (at least that's how I want to spell it if I'm typing quickly). Nevertheless, the preposition "in" appears to be intact - as a matter of fact, all words that start with in- prefix seem to maintain their /I/ sound.

    What is this and where does it come from. I know it's not the pin/pen merger - for starters the tendency flows the other direction to a lengthened (diphthong) and nasalized Southern /I/. I don't follow the vowel shift from the Greatlakes region, and generally, where my family comes from in the Champlain valley, has been isolated from that shift by the Adirondack mountains (where as those New Yorkers who live in the Saint Lawrence Valley and along the lake Ontario shore to Buffalo would have that shift). I grew up in South Florida - which is southern, but I'm young and most native southern speakers have died out or are in the minority in that region, plus, as I said, my since vowel appears to follow the opposite pattern from the pin-pen merger. Anyone have a better guess as to what region follows this phenomenon? Otherwise I'll be forced to go get my masters degree in linguistics just to figure this out! ;)
  5. Brioche

    Brioche Senior Member

    Australia English
    I agree.
  6. EmilyD Senior Member

    Rhode Island
    U.S., English
    I am a New Yorker, who has been influenced by Rhode Island and Boston accents (by virtue of 20+ years living in RI, + one year in Needham, MA), and I've never heard since as a homophone to the other three.

    But perhaps an upstate New Yorker's pronunication is different...;)


  7. Gordonedi

    Gordonedi Senior Member

    UK (Scotland) English
    I agree too.
  8. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    English (England)
    Another agreement here - the presence of the "t" makes a slight, but audible, difference for me. "Since" is nothing like the others for me.
  9. GreenWhiteBlue

    GreenWhiteBlue Senior Member

    The City of New York
    USA - English
    Spoken casually in New York City, sense, cents, and cents are pronounced the same way. Enunciated carefully, the difference noted above (scents and cents are the same, but sense has no "t") can be heard. However, "Since" has a distinctly different vowel, and is not a homophone of the other three any more than pin is a homophone of pen.
  10. bibliolept

    bibliolept Senior Member

    Northern California
    AE, Español
    I would say that "sense" isn't a homophone, though "scents" and "cents" are, for the reason mentioned by Timpeac and et al. "Since" is very unlikely to be pronounced in a way that would make it one.
  11. anothersmith Senior Member

    Los Angeles
    English, U.S.
    I grew up in the Great Plains, went to school in New England, and have lived in California for many years now. I pronounce the first three words the same way most of the time; if I'm enunciating clearly, there's a slight "t" sound in "scents." I pronounce "since" differently.

    For what it's worth, though, I once had a boyfriend from upstate New York who pronounced "since" as if it were "sense," and insisted that it was improper to pronounce it any other way.

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