A Fit of Pique

Now, I’m not an English major, but I do love the English language. In high school, I learned to write in what my Journalism teacher called “down style.”  Later, I learned to write business style, and then government style.  Over the years, my writing became flatter and flatter, or fifty shades of grey. 

In between the job experiences, I learned how to write abstruse research papers during my years in graduate school.  As a result, I have a whole shelf of books on writing which I never read or refer to anymore.  Shrunk and White, the Chicago Manual of Style, back and forth.  Every professor and boss I ever worked for had a different preference.  I must have a half-dozen volumes of Skunk and White, the preferred reference for many. Yes, I know it is Strunk and White, but I thought of it differently.

After years of having every line I wrote edited beyond recognition, and every creative drop drained from my soul, I don’t know what style I use today, one of the joys of being an elder blogger. 

Yesterday, Linda at Retirement Daze wrote about aspects of English usage that drive her into a fit of pique: 

Your post reminded me of a pet peeve. I have for years now often been dismayed by the so-called writing of some supposedly literate people who cannot seem to choose the correct homophones. I know this irritation is minor compared to the level of literacy you were discussing, but come on, shouldn’t a newspaper columnist know , for example, that a “steward” of resources is not a “stewart” and that the cliché is to “pique” someone’s interest, not “peek” or “peak” it? I am picky and grumpy.

Linda is much more literate than I am.  I thought I knew what pique was but I had to look up homophone. Here’s what I discovered:

I think Linda is referring to the left box. That’s when words are neither the same when spelled or in meaning.  They are just different. 

This hits home for me because David is constantly mis-hearing what I say.  I’d share some of these misheard words if I could remember them, but at the moment my mind is a blank.

David tells me his hearing aid gets jammed with wax and that’s why he takes it out.

Pique, is apparently a Spanish footballer or a type of weaving, not a mountain.

10 thoughts on “A Fit of Pique

  1. These are interesting differences on the chart, especially the ones associated with speech for me which come into play with some interventions we do.

    Also, fortunately, when I was in our grad. school program everything we wrote was APA ’cause I would have hated having to jump around to so many different required literary forms as I knew existed.

    Would be interested to read some of the misunderstandings that occur between speaker and listener due to hearing loss — make good teaching tools for me — some time ago I wrote about one instance.
    You could write an interesting blog post here with them perhaps. When I worked more with those adapting to using hearing aids, also educating individuals, staff and family it really made a difference in their lives. Often can be some surprisingly serious complicating misunderstandings that have developed which can be mostly alleviated under the right circumstances. Some of the misunderstandings can also be quite humorous, so helps to have a good sense of humor.


    • The beauty of WORD is that you can set it to some style such as APA or Chicago and it corrects your footnotes. I wish I had WORD ages ago, but I was a Word Perfect fan for mny years. WP has features WORD does not.

      Regarding hearing mistakes, I think I will begin to record them as I can’t remember them 3 minutes afterward.


  2. I’m laughing indeed. I wore Pique fabrics in the fifties….small raised textures on a solid color. Mine were white.

    Yes, my pprofessors too. I found a solution. Overwhelm them with images. Images require so much space and filler type, that pretty soon they don’t care what you say. Once I clearly stated that the Civil War was a railroad war…which it was in a way. Fig. 1, Fig.2, Fig. 3, ad infinitum. LOL That paper had hundreds.

    You always add to my days,.


  3. Love your table. If I was still teaching, I would copy that and haul it into class today for a great discussion. Well, great on my part. Eye-rolling on the part of my students.


  4. I had to chuckle at that photo of the guy with a peak in his hairstyle, because it reminded me of my doctor, who is probably in his late 40s and early 50s. Is my doctor trying to recapture his youth? Who’s he trying to kid?


  5. Bless your heart, Dianne, thanks for the mention, and your research has provided a bit more to consider in another aggravation I hadn’t expressed. I had been wondering when the language masters had replaced “homonym” with the less melodic word “homophone.”

    One thing is clear. I need to stop my tendencies to wallow helplessly in perplexity. I must not let myself forget that the power of Google is with me!


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