Holorhyme is a form of rhyme where two very similar sequence of sounds can form phrases composed of slightly or completely different words and with different meanings. For example, in some British English dialects, the following lines are pronounced identically:

"In Ayrshire hill areas, a cruise, eh, lass?"
"Inertia, hilarious, accrues, hélas!"
Miles Kington, "A Lowlands Holiday Ends in Enjoyable Inactivity".

In French

In French poetry, rime richissime ("very rich rhyme") is a rhyme of more than three phonemes. A holorime is an extreme example. For example (Marc Monnier):

Gall, amant de la Reine, alla, tour magnanime ! (Gallus, the Queen's lover, went – a magnanimous gesture! –)
Galamment de l'Arène à la Tour Magne, à Nîmes. (Gallantly from the Arena to the Great Tower, at Nîmes.)"
pronounced [ɡa.la.mɑ̃.d(ə.)la.ʁɛ(ː).na.la.tuʁ.ma.ɲa.nim]

Another notable French exponent of the holorime was Alphonse Allais:

Par les bois du djinn, où s'entasse de l'effroi, (By the woods of the djinn, where fear abounds,)
Parle et bois du gin, ou cent tasses de lait froid. (Talk and drink gin, or a hundred cups of cold milk.)
pronounced [paʁ.le.bwa.dy.dʒi.nu.sɑ̃.tas.d(ə.)lɛ.fʁwa]

French lends itself to humorous wordplay because of its large number of heterographic homophones:

Ma mère est maire de Mamers, et mon frère est masseur. (My mother is the mayor of Mamers, and my brother is a masseur.)
Ma mère est mère de ma mère, et mon frère est ma sœur. (My mother is my mother's mother, and my brother is my sister.)
pronounced [ma mɛʁ ɛ mɛ(ː)ʁ də ma.mɛʁ e mɔ̃ fʁɛʁ ɛ ma.sœʁ]
Lundi et mardi, mercredi, jeudi, vendredimanche, samedi (Monday and Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Frisunday, Saturday.)
L'un dit, et m'a redit mercredi, « Je dis, vendre dix manches, ça me dit ! » (Someone said, and repeated it to me on Wednesday, "I say, selling ten sleeves, I'd like that!")
pronounced [lœ̃.di.e.maʁ.di.mɛʁ.kʁə.di.ʒø.di vɑ̃.dʁə.di.mɑ̃ʃ.sam.di]

In Japanese

A type of holorime where the meaning changes based on where word boundaries are placed in the phrase is known as ginatayomi (ぎなた読み) in Japanese. The word itself is a ginatayomi, since it arises from a misreading[1]:

Benkei ga, naginata wo motte 弁慶が、長刀を持って (Benkei, take the naginata)
Benkei gana, ginata wo motte 弁慶がな、ぎなたを持って (Oi Benkei, take the ginata)

These words are consequently also known as Benkei-yomi. Another famous example[2]:

Pan tsukutta koto aru? パン作ったことある? (Have you ever made bread?)
Pantsu kutta koto aru? パンツ食ったことある? (Have you ever eaten underpants?)

Other examples

Holorime may also refer to two phrases that sound the same but have different meanings. Most such holorimes come from music lyrics, such as mishearing "'Scuse me while I kiss the sky" as "'Scuse me while I kiss this guy." (See also Mondegreen)

See also


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