Homonymania Continues to Run Amok

From time to time I delve into my file of “Boners and Bloopers” to review some writing problems I’ve found in print that involve confusing one word with another, most often homonyms,  words which are alike or nearly alike in sound but different in meaning and in spelling.

Here are four examples which appeared in recent times in the local press.  The only change I’ve made is to correct the spelling of the word in question. Your chore is to discover the word that was used erroneously and post it in the “Comments” area of this Blog:

1.  From a sports column dealing with the history of the University of South Carolina’s withdrawal from the ACC because of too high standards for entrance for student eligibility (minimum of 800 required on the SAT):  “The ACC’s refusal to support [AD and Coach Paul] Dietzel’s efforts to lessen those standards was a major reason the Gamecocks left.”

2.  In reference to a hypothetical physical conflict on the high school football field:  “You have two teams getting together at midfield after a game and instead of shaking hands, they start whaling away on each other.”

3.  In a story about gang conflict in school settings, a high school principal is quoted as saying,  ‘”We try to be as proactive as possible,’  he said. ‘We try to counsel kids as much as possible.'”

4.  From a report on a recent NFL game between the Patriots and the Broncos:  “‘The main focus was to really play a complementary game — special teams, offense and defense. And I think we did that tonight,’ Moss said.”

You might justify the choices you would offer as suggestions, if you are so inclined.  What the considerable variety and quantity of these transgressions might suggest is that word processing programs ought perhaps to be equipped with homonym checkers.



2 Responses to “Homonymania Continues to Run Amok”

  1. Frank B Maness,Jr. Says:

    It might have something to do with that soft spot on our head when we were babies! I only have a spell check and that don’t work on bloging. Is that 3 g’s or one? It makes me feel like a knuclehead to edit and the next day wonder why I didn’t see something that sticks out like everthing the next day that was all wrong and it’s to late to correct. No one is as bad as I am in messing up a piece of language.

  2. Gregory Phillips Says:

    1. Lessen. I’m betting they said lesson.
    2. Whaling. They said wailing, right?
    3. Counsel. Presumably it looked like someone tried to council the kids in the original story.
    4. Complementary. Because the players may have complimented one another, but that’s not what he meant, even if that’s what the story originally said.

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