Homophone

This word has the following meaning, according to Merriam-Webster:

“One of two or more words pronounced alike but different in meaning or derivation or spelling (as the words to, too, and two)”

I actually used the word “homophone” in my trigonometry class yesterday! During the 08:00 class, I didn’t do any lecturing, but instead had the students work on a packet with problems that apply trig identities in order to find exact values of certain trig functions of angle sums.

A slightly annoying thing about the trig class, or any mathematical problem that uses trigonometry, is the fact that the words “sine” and “sign” are pronounced in the same way.

When I was helping out one of the students, the fact that I spelled out “sign” when referring to the sign conventions of the trig functions and the quadrants of the xy plane made the word “homophone” come to mind.

And this triggered (perhaps) distracting conversation about “those things that you learnt in elementary school that have been forgotten to the sands of time.” It didn’t last that long, since I encouraged the student to continue it after class. (Granted, that was my fault for starting the situation. Ha!)

A slightly amusing thing about this is the “sing-song” mnemonic for the following two trig identities:

  • The identities:
    • sin(a+b) = sin(a)cos(b) + cos(a)sin(b)
    • cos(a+b) = cos(a)cos(b) – sin(a)sin(b)
  • The mnemonics, respectively:
    • Sine Co sine; Co sine Sine.
    • Co sine, Co sine, SIGN Sine Sine.

Although those mnemonics helped me so that I’ve never forgotten the angle sum identities, I’m guessing that not everyone will follow suit, especially those of my readers who don’t have the mathematical background. Can’t please everyone in that way!

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Rochester Sectional: Next right!

פסח: כ”א ימים (Passover: 21 days).

Big Proctor Set: 32 days.

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