I love topics that let me ramble on meaninglessly. As a neophyte writer, I also relish the opportunity to improve my research skills. There has been interesting word-related news these days. Alex Trebek has frequently ignored spelling – according to my memory, yet a young man made a minor spelling error and lost a few thousand. The phrase was Emancipation Proclamation.
English is a miserable language to learn. Lately, technology has made spelling much easier. I use MS Word as my notepad. The inevitable red wavy line points out my most egregious errors. I now look for complex words to use, like egregious, and see if I can spell them correctly. When I first typed egregious, it was egregiously incorrect. The wavy red line saved me.
Homophones are words that sound alike but are spelled differently. An example of homophonic words are: aisle, I’ll and isle. Another fun set is: bald, balled and bawled. My personal demons are affect and effect. And who hasn’t shown jealousy at one’s neighbor’s jalousie? To further confuse the issue we are confronted with homographs. An example might be: I couldn’t bear to see that dead grizzly bear. With its skin removed it was quite bare. Nevertheless it the dead bear was lying there with its bare bear teeth bared.
I might say that my wife’s makeup case has a very compact compact – it is quite small. This is an example of a homograph. As a writer I might advocate on behalf of other writers – you might say that I am their advocate.
Or: I threw my bat at the bat. To further aggravate the situation: I stood in the bow of my boat and saw another person bow to me wearing a bow tie.
In America I wear a brown colored shoes, however in Britain they are coloured brown. If I open my boot, am I opening the trunk of my car or my footwear? Are chips potato chips or French fries? Is football another name for soccer or American football? In Canada do I practice law or practise law? In Pygmalion, George Bernard Shaw says:
“The English have no respect for their language, and will not teach their children to speak it … there even are places where English completely disappears. Why, in America they haven't used it for years.”
As a native of that far-away land called Brooklyn, I frequently see a blank look on people’s faces when I either fall back into my native dialect, or use a word that is specifically Brooklyn-ese in nature.