Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Adventures with Homophones*

"Mommy, do crowns bite?"

I was sitting in the backseat with Bryn one evening, when this question occurred to the Princess of Random Thoughts.

"What do you mean, honey? Like the sharp points pinch your finger or something?"

"No, crowns. Do they bite?"

"Ummmm. (glancing at Dad in the rear view mirror for some help that was not to come.) I don't understand your question."

"Crowns. Crowns. Can they bite your finger?"

"Are you saying crown like a princess wears?"

"No, Mom. CROWN," she says enunciating the word slowly and with slightly more force.

"Are you saying crayon?" (knowing full-well that, although her pronunciation of crayon sounds a LOT like crown, it made even less sense in this context.)

"I'm saying CROWN. You know, CROWNS?!", growing exasperated by my embarrassingly miserable attempt to communicate on a very simply topic.

---Dad to the rescue.--- "Honey, do you mean clown? Cl-Cl-Clown?"

Bryn throws her hands up and shouts, "YES!"

Me: "Oh, then, no. Clowns usually don't bite."

*I was trying to remember the term for the "they're/there/their" phenomena, and somehow miraculously I came up with homonym. Not wanting to embarrass myself, I googled that to be sure it was correct. The first entry was Alan Cooper's Homonym List. Quite an interesting find. I'll be forever thankful that I also clicked on "About the List" because I learned that what I was talking about wasn't actually a homonym, his title notwithstanding. Thanks, Alan, for illuminating the confusing subtlety of the English language.

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