Friday, January 31, 2020

Quickies: GAAAHHHHH!

     Damn it all, only one day after a disquisition on why “the rules” aren’t necessarily binding, I find myself compelled to do this.

     Watch your homophones, Gentle Readers. Words that sound the same don’t necessarily mean the same thing. Indeed, I can’t think of a case where they do.

     I just encountered this phrase:

     If this sort of thing peaks your interest...

     No, no, NO!! The word you want is pique:

pique v: to excite (interest, curiosity, etc.):
Her curiosity was piqued by the gossip.

     I’ve been encountering quite a lot of homophone errors lately, and they drive me straight up the BLEEP!ing wall. I know that spellcheckers are useless against them. Worse, most grammar checkers won’t detect them either. The most common ones are the “its / it’s,” “to / too / two,” and “there / their / they’re” groups, but others have been proliferating in a spirit of “My turn!”

     Here’s another that’s completely avoidable: the use of lead where led — the past tense of the verb to lead — is correct.

     This one had me laughing so hard I hurt myself:

     She had a when on her right cheek.

     HUH?! The word is wen: “a benign encysted tumor of the skin, especially on the scalp, containing sebaceous matter; a sebaceous cyst.” (

     Yes, these homophone errors can be very funny, but the English language is taking a fair amount of damage from them. Words are tools! Each has its proper applications. You wouldn’t use a chainsaw to drive a nail, would you? Not a running one, at least?

     What time is it, sweetie? Only 4:40 EST? Great God in heaven, I need a drink!

1 comment:

Linda Fox said...

Generally, those grammar-checkers will pick up those homophones. Spell-checkers will not.

However, the grammar-checkers also flag a lot of writing that I WANTED to be that way, however "not correct". I've been using LibreOffice, a Word clone that is cross-platform, and I've not noticed it being overly fussy.

For novel writing, I use Scrivener. I've taught it to ignore some of my most common "errors" that relate to non-standard spelling, or droppin' g's, or other style matter. But, it does pick up - seemingly - most, if not all, of my problem children.