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B) Sources of Homonymy
There are two main sources of homonymy.
a) Homonymy usually develops through convergent sound development,- when two or three words of different origin accidentally coincide, in form.
The word case (a box or receptacle for hoiding something) developed from Latin word capere - to take; its homonym case (a set of circumstances or conditions) originated from the Latin word cadere – to fall.
b) Homonymy may develop from polysemy through divergent sense development. As the most frequent words are also highly polysemantic, it is only natural that they develop meanings which in the course of time may deviate very far from the central one. When the intermediate links fall out, some of these new meanings lose all connection with the rest of semantic structure and start a separate existence. This phenomenon is known as disintegration or split of polysemy.
Let us take, for example, the word box and its five entries in a dictionary:
box - a kind of small evergreen shrub
box - a receptacle made of wood, cardboard, etc.
box - slap with the hand on the ear
box-fight with fists in padded gloves (sport term)
These words may be partly derived from one another but their common point of origin lies beyond the limits of the English language. | They can be ultimately traced to the Latin word 'buxus'.
Both sources of homonymy may be combined with loss of endings and other morphological processes.
The opposite process of adding suffixes may also result in homonymy.