In Japanese, 熱い and 暑い are both read atsui and both mean 'hot'. The former pertains to an object (e.g. hot coffee) and the latter to weather.

In French 'cuissot' and 'cuisseau' have the same pronunciation and essentially the same meaning. Both come from 'cuisse' (thigh). The former applies to venison and the latter to veal.

Is there a name for these?

Are there different terms for when a language has two ways to spell a sound vs. two ways to pronounce a spelling? calls them 'different spellings', but I am asking about genuinely different words, not variants of spelling of a given word.

  • Huh, interesting. Linguistics generally consider spoken language to be primary, which means for the Japanese example those are the exact same word, probably not even different senses. – curiousdannii Jun 14 '20 at 12:35
  • Re: your French examples. Based on your explanation, those are most likely to be just orthographic variants or doublets. – Alex B. Jun 14 '20 at 12:58
  • I don't think there's a term that captures the fact that the spellings are not interchangeable. I haven't come across 'doublets' but I would take that term to mean the same thing as orthographic variants or different spellings, i.e. that there is more than one valid spelling and the writer has a choice. – rchivers Jun 14 '20 at 13:10
  • I don't know French enough but wiki says "Le cuissot (orthographe classique) ou cuisseau (orthographe réformée de 1990)", cf. dictionnaire.lerobert.com/definition/cuissot#definitions (where they are treated as orthographic variants) – Alex B. Jun 14 '20 at 15:15
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    In Japanese, this is called 同音異字 (dô-on iji), meaning "same sound, different character". The use of different characters is caused by different vocabulary in the source language of the writing system (i.e. Chinese) – devio Jun 15 '20 at 7:00

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