English has many words that have multiple pronunciations for the same spelling (heteronyms) or multiple spellings for the same pronunciation (homophones). What is the longest chain of unique spelling/pronunciation pairs you can make where each pair matches either the spelling or pronunciation of the previous pair?
For example here's a length 3 chain with matching item in bold:
- bow/bəʊ (curved weapon which fires arrows)
- bow/baʊ ("I will only bow to the queen")
- bough/baʊ (part of a tree)
- No repeating pairs, even if they have different meanings (e.g. no homonyms, no coming back on pairs you've already used)
- Use a consistent accent, dialect and phonetic notation. I've used IPA and Received Pronunciation as described by Wiktionary above, but feel free to use any reasonable set.
I've got no idea what the longest chain is!
I'm not sure what other languages this would make sense in, but it would also be interesting to see the language with the longest or shortest such chain.