Thursday, August 11, 2016

VINE and WINE, a word pair with differences in pronunciation and meaning

The nouns vine and wine look similar and sound similar—they rhyme. Yet, the two words differ in pronunciation and meaning.  The beginning consonant in vine sounds like the one in the word violet. And the noun wine begins like the word white.

The semantic difference: Vine is the plant that produces grapes (vine berries). Wine is an alcoholic beverage made by fermenting grape juice. The following sentence illustrates the relation and distinction between the two nouns:
The more a vine struggles, the better the vine and the wine.
Wine chemistry follows vine chemistry follows soil chemistry! The highlighted sentence above has been extracted from a much longer one in Maximillian Potter's “Shadows in the Vineyard,” comparing viticulture in Burgundy (France) and California. Here the complete sentence [1]:

Burgundians believe that some density of planting is good for the vines because it forces them to compete for nutrients; the more a vine struggles, so goes the cliché in Burgundy, the better the vine and the wine. 

Vine, wine and Germans
Germans have the masculine noun Wein for both the plant and the drink—vine and wine. You may have met Germans (like me from northern Germany, where climate & soil is not in favor of viticulture) struggling to say these two English words correctly. But there is help available on the Web [2].
Depending on context, the word vine may variously be translated into German as Weinstock or Rebstock (both masculine) or Weinrebe (feminine) when one wants to refer to the cultivated plant—a vineyard's grape vine, which is the common grape vine (Vitis vinifera).

Keywords: writing, spelling, pronunciation, German-English, grapevine.

References and more
[1] Maximillian Potter: Shadows in the Vineyard. Twelve, New York, first trade edition, July 2015; page 158.
[2] Recommended for German speakers: How to say VINE and WINE - American English Pronunciation Lesson [].