I just realized that Chinese can have several unrelated meanings under the same sound (though often they are given different Chinese characters/symbols).
For example, gān can be:
- 干 (to interfere, dry, to dry out, empty)
- 甘 (sweet)
- 竿 (rod)
- 肝 (liver)
- 酐 (organic or inorganic anhydride in ochem)
There are probably many other better examples than this though as well. How would I construct a sentence which was something like this?
We dried the sweet smelling anhydride into a liver powder.
It would be like:
We gān the gān smelling gān into a gān powder.
How could you tell which use was where, given you were speaking this and didn't have the benefit of seeing that the characters might be different? If my sentence seems contrived, and if there might be alternative words which you could switch out which are synonyms, then think of another better example that demonstrates the key point: how would you use the multiple different meanings of one phonetic word in the same sentence?
English does this it seems to a lesser extent. For example, all English atoms/molecules are given unique names, whereas in Chinese the names are reused from other contexts. But in English we still have words like "bear" which can be an animal, or "to carry". I can't think of a better example of words like this in English, but you might contrive a sentence like:
The bear beared the bear bearing bears.
But English has affixes and sentence structure to help clarify which is which even in that case. Chinese I don't think has such distinguishing factors, so wondering how you would do it in Chinese. I don't really speak Chinese so it would be hard for me to figure out this more complex situation.