Friday, September 19, 2008

Ad Homonym!

"If a thing's worth saying, it's worth taking a long time to say," says Treebeard in J R R Tolkien's The Two Towers. If anything, this merely understates Tolkien's general position on writing.

I wonder what Treebeard would have to say about spelling, though? Lately, I've taken to unconsciously mispelling words by throwing in a few extra letters, sometimes turning them into a homonym. My favourite seems to be 'throw/through', but I have to keep on catching myself out when writing 'deceit'. I want to turn it into 'deceipt'. Conversely, I have no problem at all with writing out the word 'receipt', and never want to shorten it to 'receit'.

For all you know, some of these mispellings could catch on in years to come. Writing out the word 'slow' is one thing, but the added letters in 'slough' really give you time to draw the whole experience out. Whereas before we 'get' into 'debt', afterwards, we could 'gebt' into 'debt', and meals would not be 'et', they would be 'ebt'. A 'site' of land would become a 'sight' of land (I've had to catch myself out on this mispelling from time to time), and critics could dismiss bad books as 'tright' rather than 'trite'. And, taking a spelling technique from the prefix 'pseudo-', all words currently beginning in 's' could begin instead in a silent 'p': 'pstops', 'pstarts', 'pshiver', 'psimper', 'pstamp', 'psue', and, my personal favourite, because it sounds so onomatopaeic, 'pspit'. Also, I've always been a fan of the queue of letters after the 'q' in the word 'queue' that turns it from a letter into a word. We could equally apply this effect to other letter/word homophones. For instance, 'be' and 'bee' would become 'beee' and 'beeee', or, perhaps for the facetious, 'B1 and B2'.

Then again, perhaps I'm wrong, and the trend of the SMS generation will continue so that, in five years, the whole of human expression will be rolled into one simple, easy to follow, impossible to understand, four-or-five letter acronym.



Tim M said...

I think this is the pstart of a movement. The Americans managed to gett ridd of a fueue lettters butt now we can doo bettter than thatt!!!! Let uss gebt those lettters back and addd a thoughsand morre.

Alexis, Baron von Harlot said...

I always feel cheated by "zoology". If we pronounce it zoo-ology (and who doesn't?), we should do it the courtesy of spelling it zooology.

nailpolishblues said...

I have a terrible habit of turning ratio into ration - usually around lunch time. A PSA ration does not, perhaps, make a huge amount of sense. I still can't spell gonorrhoea after five years of daily practice.

TimT said...

Lunch does that to you. I find I make the strangest Freudian-typing-slips* at work when I'm distracted by thoughts of lunch.

*None of which I can remember at the moment.

TimT said...

'Diarrhoea' is also a surprisingly common word (perhaps people keep talking about it on the principle that it's best to keep what you fear most in your mind), and it always catches me up. Same with 'abbatoir'.

For some reason I always add extra vowels to Australasian - it becomes something like 'Australiasian'. Weird.

Tim Mulligan said...

I teach English as a second language. I make spelling mistakes on the whiteboard on a near daily basis. "Therere" is one of my favourites. I forget which 'e' I'm up to.

Email: timhtrain - at -

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