I've recently discovered an interest in the linguistics of homonyms, particularly words that are homonyms in multiple languages and are the *same* homonym across multiple languages.
I find it somewhat difficult to articulate precisely what I mean, but here are two examples:
1. In English, "man" can mean either a male human being or can be used loosely to refer to all humans. In Spanish, the word "hombre" can fulfill both of these functions as well.
2. In English, "day" can mean: a 24-hour period (two days from now...), the lit portion of a 24-hour period (during the day of Saturday) or an indefinite time period (in my day...). In Hebrew, "yom" (Strong's H3117) fulfills all three of these functions as well.
In ancient Greek, Heraclitus informs us that "life" and "bow" (the weapon) are the same word (bios), yet clearly in English we have two words for these two concepts.
I am interested in exploring the extent to which (1) and (2) occur; that is, the extent to which words are homonyms in different languages. Is there any particularly good resource on this? I know I'm not the first to try to explore this area but a quick search of JSTOR was not fruitful.
My guess is that these "shared homonyms" are more common within language groups than across them, and that it is possible that some homonyms evolved early and were carried through daughter languages...
Travel well, we'll see you on the other side.