Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Not the New York Thymes! Homophone pears at the nation's greatest newspaper

This canine knows how to use his canines.
(That's a doorstop with a weighted base I'm gnawing.)
Being the product (virtually) of a professor dad and a journalist/librarian mom, it would be criminal if I were not sensitive to the subtleties of the English language. So, while I am considered an ELL (English language learner) student—yes, I get the unnecessary repetition there, but such is eduspeak—I do know my living room mantel from a kingly mantle.

Not so the New York Times. Or is it the Thymes?

In two stories, one on July 9 and another on July 16, writers used the word mantle when they meant mantel. It's not the first time—or the only pair, or should I say pear, of homophones to be confused. Besides, shouldn't someone be checking?

Mom tells the story of an intern at her old paper who made the laughable, yet horrifying, error of writing about the Fabulous Four as "The Beetles." Fortunately, an editor caught that one. But forgive that callow youth? Never.

The question: does anyone else notice? Does anyone know the difference between homophones and homonyms? What about homographs? Does anyone care that a "morning" dove is really a mourning dove? Or should we just call them pigeons and forget about them?

In case you wondered, dear reader, ranting indeed is a family trait.

Here's some help: homophone: two or more words with the same pronunciation but different meanings
homonym: two or more words spelled the same with the same pronunciation but different meanings
homograph: two words spelled the same but pronounced differently and with different meanings

But what due eye no? I'm just a canine. And if you discover the homonym in that penultimate sentence, I'll gladly share my bone. I've got a pear of them, anyway.