This week, I’m revisiting an issue I covered a while back. I’m mentioning it again because it seems to come up more often than you would think.
As most of us know, spell check can’t read minds. We’ve probably all ran into situations where we’ve butchered the spelling of a word and spell check has suggested a word that is not the word you mean to include. If you are tired or distracted enough, you might just accept the suggestion and move on. There isn’t much you can do about this when it happens other than catching it on a later read through or hoping your editor catches such glitches.
This post is not about that sort of spell check issue, but a much more insidious creature. I give you the bane of spell checkers everywhere … the homonym. Actually, to be more technically accurate, what we’re really talking about are homophones, but they’re are often referred to as homonyms. Confused yet? No worries. Let’s get down to it.
Here’s a quick overview.
Homophones are words that are pronounced the same but have different meanings: sew, so, sow for, fore, four
Homographs are words that are spelled the same but have different pronunciations: bow (archery), bow (forward part of a ship)
Finally, homonyms are words that have the same pronunciation AND the same spelling but have different meanings: bat or can
The most common problem that I see associated with these words shows up in the form of homophones, and one of the most common ones that I see is heal vs. heel.
There you are just typing along, and before you know it, your character is walking into a room in a pair of stiletto high heals. Whoops!
And of course, spell check will glide right by this one without so much as a backward glance. As I mentioned above, there’s really not much that can be done about this other than more pairs of eyes and an editor.
The truth is that these things are just going to happen sometimes. I guess the purpose of this post is that of a little consciousness raising. Hopefully, if there is a little voice in the back of your head, it will be slightly less likely to happen.
How about you, WG2E peeps? Can you relate? Do you have any stories?