Sunday, June 5, 2016

The Homophones Nobody Talks About

This week on MSWB: Making Small Words Bigger...

Sorry, that was a joke.

Homophones are words that sound alike but are different (if you didn't already know), and in this world of texting and predictive text, it's easy for you to mean the correct one, but it came out wrong anyway.

The common ones everybody knows about are to/two/too, peek/peak, air/heir, and there/their/they're. But nobody talks about "pique" (a homophone of the peek/peak pairing) or queue/cue (and the recent misspelled addition, "que").

"Pique" is most commonly used in the context of piquing someone's interest, like catching their eye or ear or attention or curiosity.

"Queue" is an ordered line, usually sorted by starting or arrival date, and can apply to people waiting in line or posts waiting to be published.

"Cue" is an indicator, often used in conjunction with "cards," cue-cards, though these days, the proliferation of teleprompters have largely put the concept out of use.

"Que" is "what" in Spanish. While it may be a visual rhyme (words that look like they rhyme based on spelling rather than pronunciation) it is not a true rhyme. "Que" is pronounced like the second syllable in "okay" (though less drawn out, more staccato-like), and not at all like queue or cue.

So stop using "que" if you don't mean what. Please?

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