If semantic primes which are homophones exist, is it possible to create sentences which have perfectly valid interpretations which differ?

I'm thinking of something like a "meaning" hash-collision which is also a "sounding" hash-collision(homophones).

1 Answer 1


Yes, this is the case with the BE (somewhere), BE (someone/something) and BE (mine) primes. But I'm not sure you could make a whole sentence with two of these that are otherwise identical. The primes each have their own distinguishing contexts.

  • Can you elucidate regarding BE (mine)? It looks like you read the wiki article and replaced "is" with "BE".
    – whickey
    Oct 17, 2019 at 2:29
  • @whickey BE (mine) is an older label I think. Either way it doesn't make a substantive difference. NSM has the concept of allolexes where the prime will be inflected in different contexts. BE will appear in English NSM explications as IS or ARE or AM.
    – curiousdannii
    Oct 17, 2019 at 2:50
  • Note that "NSM" stands for Natural Semantic Metalanguage, a theory associated with Wierzbicka and Goddard. It's a good theory but not as well known as it ought to be, imo.
    – jlawler
    Oct 17, 2019 at 21:04

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