The Washington Post

The Homophone Menace

In the Salt Lake Tribune we find the following allegation:

[W]hen 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.

Some say the ancient texts condemn homophones. But cutting through the haze, these texts are correctly understood to prohibit acts not, say, an ax. “Love the sinner, louver the sin,” writes the Right Reverend Wright, who urges that homophonic tendencies be resisted. Many religious business owners say they would employ a homophone for a menial task, but not hire one for a higher one.

Homophones were once prohibited in the military, but never in the millinery. Soldiers feared them less than a gay’s gaze.

The causes of homophones are unknown. Perhaps it’s in the genes or a mother’s smothers. Too simple to say there’s only two. Maybe the homophones choose, as a dog chews shoes.

“Our hour has come,” proclaim the militant homophones. “We are discrete but no longer discreet.” They threaten to uproot heteronymativity.

This leaves many to suspect the real homophone addenda.

They want same-pronunciation marriage. The possibility is much discussed with much disgust. “They have no right to that rite,” writes Wright.  “Chris will marry Chris, Pat will wed Pat, and Dale betroth Dale. What’s next, polynomial marriage?”

Next up: Lebanese linguistics, bilious bilinguals, and troubling transcriptions.


Dale Carpenter is the Distinguished University Teaching Professor and Earl R. Larson Professor of Civil Rights & Civil Liberties Law at the University of Minnesota Law School. He teaches and writes in the areas of constitutional law; the freedoms of speech, association, and religion; and sexual orientation and the law.



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments

Sign up for email updates from the "Confronting the Caliphate" series.

You have signed up for the "Confronting the Caliphate" series.

Thank you for signing up
You'll receive e-mail when new stories are published in this series.
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Video curated for you.
Next Story
Eugene Volokh · July 30, 2014

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.