Homophobe/homophone — or, why literacy is really important

Too funny. Sad for the guy who got fired, but funny for why.

Homophones, as any English grammarian can tell you, are words that sound the same but have different meanings and often different spellings — such as be and bee, through and threw, which and witch, their and there.

This concept is taught early on to foreign students learning English because it can be confusing to someone whose native language does not have that feature.

But when the social-media specialist for a private Provo-based English language learning center wrote a blog explaining homophones, he was let go for creating the perception that the school promoted a gay agenda.

Tim Torkildson was working for Nomen Global Language Center. His boss and owner of the center, Clarke Woodger, needs some language lessons of his own by the look of things.

Here’s one from Wikipedia:

The word derives from the Greek homo- (ὁμο-), “same”, and phōnḗ (φωνή), “voice, utterance”.

Global Language, man. English has borrowed from nearly every language which is part of why it’s so ubiquitous and vital for people to learn if they want to do any business in the English speaking world. It’s what Dr. Ludwig Lazarus Zamenhof thought his Esperanto would become – the world’s common tongue. Poor guy with a big dream…

Back to the article.

“Now our school is going to be associated with homosexuality,” Woodger complained, according to Torkildson, who posted the exchange on his Facebook page.

Torkildson says he was careful to write a straightforward explanation of homophones. He knew the “homo” part of the word could be politically charged, but he thought the explanation of that quirky part of the English language would be educational.

No doubt the Center’s getting educated now, but still they’re arguing that it had more to do with a concern that Torkildson would use his blog to get off topic and get confusing and possibly offensive.

The school is in Utah which briefly allowed same-sex marriage recently but then pulled out. Interestingly:

Salt Lake City has the country’s highest percentage of gay or lesbian couples raising children, according to a 2013 study from the Williams Institute. There were 3,909 same-sex couples in all of Utah last year, according to the Williams Institute, a national think tank at the UCLA School of Law that conducts research on sexual orientation and gender-identity law and public policy. Gallup surveys put the percentage of the the [sic] state’s total population identifies itself as LGBT at 2.7.

If Torkildson doesn’t get rehired after this, hopefully he finds an employer who doesn’t mix this kind of thing up.

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3 Responses to Homophobe/homophone — or, why literacy is really important

  1. Thanks for the write up. For those who want to read my side of the story, please go to my personal blog at http://iwritetheblogggs.com/2014/07/24/the-homophones-got-me-a-record-of-a-recent-firing/

  2. N. E. White says:

    That’s crazy! Poor dude.

  3. 1minionsopinion says:

    It’s flabbergasting. It’s very much a need-to-know thing and anyone learning English needs a handle on their nature in order for most conversations to make any sense. Especially if they start running in 2 people who right the wrong way…

    I get defensive easily and maybe would have felt like speaking up and arguing about the issue and defending my choice to write about it but it’s hard to say. When faced with someone in a position of authority, I can also go a bit mute and only find my angry voice after I’m out the door.

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