The Wonderful Whirled of Homophones by Joy Margetts


Dragon's Hoard

In my blog offering last month, I wrote about my first experience of a real-life book signing, and added my little tongue in cheek list of what to do, and what not to do in preparing for such events.

It was well received, for which I am most grateful. But I had made a ‘booboo’ in my first published version of said blog. An inexcusable one. I had fallen into that well-known and tricksy homophone trap. I had used the word HOARD to describe a crowd of people, when of course what I meant to say was HORDE. It was duly pointed out to me by a writer friend and we laughed, because in some ways either word worked in the context in which I was writing. The HORDES might well have appeared at my book signing, in order to stock up on piles of my books, which they could take home to HOARD. (It didn’t happen, sadly!)  

It got me to thinking about homophones…

Homophone: a word that is pronounced like another word but is different in meaning, origin, or spelling

… and how creative you can be with them. 

Horde of Orcs

Of course in today’s tech world of built-in spell checkers, homophones creep into our writing all the time. Unbidden, usually. The bane of my life is THEIR and THERE. Not that I always choose to use the right one, admittedly. But if I left it to the spell checker to decide, I would never know for sure if I had used the right (write) one or not! As with KNEW and NEW, BE and BEE, and so on…

What if we actively tried using homophones creatively in sentences – like my hordes gathering their hoard of books? 

We could have the children bored of board games. The agonising wait to have your weight checked. The red-faced criminal read their rights. The eight chocolate biscuits I ate. The blue handbag that blew the budget.

We could even go shorter… ‘ Time to pick thyme’. Or a favourite of mine… ‘Ask the Jinn for gin’.

What about two word homophone sentences?

‘Which witch?’ 

‘Flee, flea!’

Living in an area of Wales where Welsh is predominantly spoken and taught in schools I have also noticed the propensity of local youngsters to spell English words the Welsh way. Welsh is much simpler to write than English in that it is generally written phonetically. I noticed this first with my own children, who being taught through the medium of Welsh, could not understand why English words aren’t always spelt as they are said. We gave up trying to explain. Who can explain the vagaries of a language where both ‘sought’ and ‘sort’ sound the same, or ‘heel’ and ‘heal’, or indeed ‘bred and ‘bread’?

It has caused us to laugh at times though. They may not be true homophones, but looking through a local marketplace listing site recently, we were delighted to find ‘chester draws’ on offer, as well as a ‘shabby chick’ cupboard.

So what are your favourite homophones and how have you used them creatively? Do you, like my aforementioned writer friend, actively collect them!? Have you got a particular homophone that is a constant frustration and that you fall fowl of every time? (or is that foul?)

Perhaps we could even challenge one another to write a piece of prose or poem where every line contains homophones?

Or perhaps not.

Perhaps we should just let them alone to do their thing… quietly infiltrating our wonderful whirled of writing when wee least expect them two, and creating havoc in doing sew.


(I think (humbly if I am wrong) that your horde of 'awks' might actually be a horde of 'orcs'... but I'm not sure whether you meant it or it is a mistake!) Such is English spelling...
Yes, I also love these wonderful pairs of words, what fun we can have with them!
Joy Margetts said…
That is hilarious, Clare, that I even got awks and orcs mixed up... maybe I should just give up now!! :)
Lynne Benton said…
I so enjoyed this post - and have never forgotten a piece in a newspaper that mentioned a grisly baby!
Joy Margetts said…
Thank you Lynn. I am sure between us all we could come up with a book full of wonderful homophones misused.
Hdpcgames said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hdpcgames said…
Really enjoyed that, thanks for this
Ruth Leigh said…
I loved the chester draws and the shabby chick!
Joy Margetts said…
@Ruth Leigh - all the range these days, darling #shabbychick

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