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On Sat, 27 Jun 2009 02:41:00 +0100, Eugene Oh <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

>(I can't remember the exact example offhand, but IIRC there was one such
>word that branched off into two exactly identical forms but each of which
>adopted different meanings and came to be spelt differently and seen as
>homophones despite their common heritage. Not very helpful example here,
>apologies. But if anyone recognises this example and can enlighten the
>list…)

"Flower" "flour" and "metal" "mettle" are two that come to mind.  

Regarding just what a contraction is ... for me, "contraction" feels kinda
like a word of traditional application in the Western grammatical tradition,
that I probably wouldn't think to apply to a language being newly described.
 If I were describing the same phenomena in a conlang I'd probably call them
"fused forms" or "reduced forms" or something of that flavour.  

Alex