Friday, May 21, 2021


In The Washington Post, John Ficarra, a Mad editor, writes about his problem with heteronyms:

The English language has something to confuse or annoy just about anyone — the mysteries of who and whom usage, the e.g. vs. i.e. standoff, the polarizing Oxford comma. I have a long-standing, personal problem with heteronyms — words that are spelled the same but don’t sound alike. Allow me to explain with a little story.

In order to graduate from the graduate program at my university, every student was required to take part in a group discussion of heteronyms. My group asked me to take the lead which, alas, went over like a lead balloon.

And we’re off.

Thanks, Murray!

[If there’s an excise tax on heteronyms, I may have to excise them from my writing.]

comments: 2

Daughter Number Three said...

Speaking of lead/lead (not to mention the ill-fated led), my favorite heteronym story goes back to DN3.1's preschool days. One of the other parents was very interested in children's health and environmental toxins and saw a job listing for a Lead Organizer. She applied with all of her qualifications about lead in homes... only to find out, of course, that it was the more usual Lead (as in head or chief) Organizer.

Makes you appreciate the old journalist mispelling of "lede."

Michael Leddy said...

For a second, I might have thought they were looking for someone to manage the classroom pencil supply. : )