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Tautonymic sights and sounds.

Most tautonymic words, as well as consisting of a repeated letter/group of letters, are also phonetically tautonymic, the 2 identical letter groups having identical pronunciations, eg pawpaw (pc: pc:). On the other hand, there exist tautonymic words with a difference in pronunciation between the 2 identical letter groups. The degree of audible difference varies. It may be obvious as in ISIS, a river in Oxford, and in the TSETSE fly; or the difference may be more subtle.

The phonetic symbols are taken from the phonetics list in the Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd. Ed.

Phonetic symbols: c:
  (as in bor
n) E
 (as in pe
t) e
 (as in pa
t) eI
 (as in a
te) ae
(as in pa
t) E:
 (as in bur
n) a:
 (as in bar
n) n
 (as in sing
) I
 (as in pi
t) aU
 (as in now
4-LETTER TAUTONYMS adad (ed aed)
   and its reversal        dada (dae de
 or de da:
) anan (on aen)
   and its reversal        nana (nae ne) eyey (aI I) gaga (gae ge)
 Isis (aIS IS) mama (me ma:) papa (pe pa:
 ... father)
                           (pa: pe
 ... Pope) tata (tae ta :) tete (tE t
 or teI t) wawa (weI we)
                            (a woman's head of hair)
6-LETTER TAUTONYMS berber (b3: be{r}) furfur (f3: fe{r}
...scurf)  murmur (m3: me{r}) gangan (gaen gaen)
   an Australian cockatoo                          palpal (pael pel)
tartar (ta: te{r}) testes tsetse (tEs ti:z) (tsE tSI) 8-LETTER TAUTONYMS
colocolo (ka:leu keuleu)
 wild cat of South America caracara (kera ka:ra)
 vulture-like birds hotshots (ha:t [integral] a:ts)
 here, sh
 ([integral]) straddles the 2 tautonymic halves of the word. 

So far, we have looked at words which are tautonyms but not phonetic tautonyms. By way of contrast, there exist a few words which are not tautonyms but which are phonetic tautonyms. The pick of the bunch is probably the word COCOA.

co coa (keukeu)

In these seven words, the letters I and Y are, in each case, both represented by the phonetic symbol I.

In six of the seven, the first letter and its doubled letter both equate to the same phonetic symbol.

 di ddy (dI
)   li ly  (|I
   ni nny
)          (nI
) pi ppy (pI
)   sissy (SI
    ti tty
)          (tI

In ki cky (kI kI), the second k is not duplicated. Rather, it is preceded by a different letter, c.


Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire, England

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Author:Thorpe, Susan
Publication:Word Ways
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 1, 2011
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