Linguistical term for words that start with the same letter?

Discussion in 'English Only' started by frenchglen, Jun 11, 2009.

  1. frenchglen New Member

    English - AU/UK (prefer UK)
    This is a general linguistics question that I've been scratching my head over.

    I am SURE there is a term for two words that start with the same letter. I don't mean alliteration, I mean it in this context: the word "book" and "banter" start with the same letter, therefore they are ____(WHAT?)_____.

    It's gotta be something similar to the terms homonym (a word that has the same spelling and pronunciation but a different meaning), homograph and homophone etc (as homo of course means "the same"). Obviously it's not alliteration because I'm not talking about a sequence of words starting with the same letter, just a term to describe the relationship between words with the same first letter.

    Given that we have entire fields of linguistical/lexicological study, there's *gotta* be a term. Even crossword or scrabble gurus might have a word for it. But google can't reveal any light.

    Anyone know? :(

    Furthermore, there ought to be some jargonistic term for two sentences whose words all start with the same letter as each other. E.g.: "John likes to play." and "Jeremy leaves the park." But I'm not expecting some crazy term for that one. :)

    Anyway...thanks for your help/thoughts.
  2. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Alliteration/alliterative works for me.

    Can you explain why it doesn't work for you?:)
  3. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    Another Country
    English English
    There doesn't *gotta* be a term for everything, Frenchglen.

    << deleted text >>
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 12, 2009
  4. JoanTaber Senior Member

    New York
    English Northeast USA
  5. Cagey post mod (English Only / Latin)

    English - US
    Alliteration is the only word I can find for this. Unfortunately, it names the effect rather than the word that produces it, which is what the original poster is asking for, I think.

    Paroemion is alliteration taken to an extreme, when nearly every word starts with the same sound:
    Why not waste a wild weekend at Westmore Water Park?
    This example and explanation is from Silva Rhetorica, a good resource for this sort of question.
  6. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Reflecting further ... you're looking for a word that describes words that just happen to start with the same letter, rather than a word that describes the repeated use of the same initial letter in sequential words in a text?

    In that case ... I dunno:(
  7. frenchglen New Member

    English - AU/UK (prefer UK)
    Yes that's right, the alliteration "effect" is actually an entirely different thing anyway.

    Thanks for the link...As Silva Rhetoricae says, alliteration is the "repetition" of such words in close succession. There's some nice new homo-words I've not seen before <-->, but again, they're all "repetition" effects like alliteration. Pretty cool though.

    So I'm looking for a static, grammatical term like homonym, that describes that which is an element of alliteration. Related, but distinctly different.

    :S Edit: yes Loob, as Bono once sang.....still haven't found it.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 12, 2009
  8. Zsuzsu Senior Member

    Budapest, Hungary
    Hi there,

    I don't think there exist a "homo-" word to describe this. Most probably you have to use a word derivated from alliteration:

    "Book" and "banter" start with the same letter, therefore they are alliterating words, or maybe alliterants.

    Shouldn't this be "sound", by the way? Or at least if we speak about alliteration, we speak of sounds and not letters.

    I think you do not need a text to speak about alliteration. Similarly to rhymes and rhyming - we don't need a poem to prove that beef and leaf are rhymes. (Maybe book and banter can be called head-rhymes!:eek:)
  9. BookmeDanno New Member

    English - U.S.
    I stumbled upon this thread while looking for something that may turn out to be the answer to this question. But I can't answer it. All I can do is illuminate what I believe the questioner means in the hope that his question also reflects what I happen to be looking for.

    I am thinking he might refer to a situation where different words are substituted for original ones, as a sort of coded translation, and the substituted words are coded only by beginning with the same initial letters. Two examples come to mind for me, but I am certain others will rapidly follow once I mention them.

    First, there is Mary Jane for marijuana. Then there is the British phrase, Sweet Fanny Adams, whose story is quite macabre. But the use of her name as a substitute for the words, "sweet f--k all," has come to mean "essentially nothing at all," or "having no importance at all." The vocalized words are altered, in effect similar to strict euphemism, to disguise as more palatable the more vulgar versions. The substitute words have no relation other than beginning with the same consonants and thus "encoding" the communication. Of course, because of their extremely vague connection, they do have to become known for what they represent, but the euphemistic substitution still permits a certain level of decorum.

    I sincerely hope that is somehow close to what the questioner meant, as I am looking for this term, myself. Like him, I am fairly certain this term exists. Help would be appreciated if anyone has a clue now that situational examples have been given.

    Euphemism seems to me to be a more general term that obviously does not convey its meaning by duplicating initial consonants. But the coding of terms in the examples I have given clearly depends on such duplication.

    I think getting off on a tangent looking for something like "homonym" was a mistake. Any ideas now?
  10. lucas-sp Senior Member

    English - Californian
    There aren't terms for everything, unfortunately. And in linguistics there's absolutely no need to group words by initial letter; since the first principle of linguistic science is that signifiers have an arbitrary relation to their signifieds, the material form of words in considered unimportant, and there would be no disciplinary need to investigate words with the same first letter. (Of course, Saussure did have his secret drawer-full of anagrams...)

    I think your example of "Mary Jane" is really interesting, because it insists on the "j" as a letter and not as a sound. The pronunciation is "mari-huana" or "mari-wana." So the written form - the letter - is important, and not the sound. That's clearly not the same as alliteration, where only the sound is important.

    The words sort of act like coded acronyms, or acrostic acronyms (or acronym acrostics?). At least, with acronym you have a process of boiling a longer phrase down to its initial letters, and with acrostics you have a process for building those initials back up into words. So you'd be able to talk about this phenomenon, at least...
  11. djluigi New Member

    Tautogram. I believe it's called. It's mainly defined as a style of poetry that uses words that share the same first letter.

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