2003-03-03 09:58:17, Marco Cimarosti <marco.cimarosti@...>

>Nicholas Bodley wrote:

>> Of course, this then means that I need to define "homophone" as a
courtesy whenever I use it...

>Sorry, why do *you* need to define "homophone"? That's on every good
English dictionary:

> http://www.bartleby.com/61/91/H0259100.html

<gentle (?) flame>
Because I often write for people, some of whom have a typical US

I suspect that people in other parts of the world don't know how badly
our educational system has deteriorated. Item: Many of us in the USA
have as much knowledge of geography as a chimpanzee:
A recent article in [American Heritage of] Invention & Technology
(Spring 2003, v.18 no.4, p.64, end of 2nd paragraph), implies that the
Isthmus of Panama is wider than 2,000 miles.

Numerous school kids can't even find the USA on a globe with only
continental outlines, much less their approx. home city locations.

Decimal points seem not to be understood, apparently being considered
decorative and having no important function,
although that's a tentative conclusion. Nevertheless, prices in
stores, in units of centicents, are extremely common.
(Example: ".79�", which is 79 centicents.)

Statistics in the news today say that about 80% of child safety seats
are installed incorrectly, because the instructions are written to a
10th-grade reading level. Also part of that report is the info. that
about 25% of us in the USA read at, or below a 5th-grade level, and I
believe that. (See <http://slashdot.org> for evidence of rampant
subliteracy. The level of literacy in the discussions differs among
various news items.)

The system of teaching reading and spelling called "phonics"
unfortunately, in practice, seems often to utterly fail to make
students aware that homophones must be considered properly. All too
often, one gets a particular impression -- that the first valid
spelling accepted by the spelling checker which, when read aloud,
sounds OK, *is* OK, results in some embarrassing silliness, such as
the headline a while back in our local paper.
(Apologies for elaborate syntax...)

Repairs to a small local carillon had been finished, but the headline
implied, instead, a repeated instance of exfoliation, like another bad
sunburn -- "Bells To Peel Again". The headlines in our local paper are
famous for their subliteracy.

"The key to a thriving democracy is a well-educated populous" (sic)
(Quote from a local ad-supported periodical)

</gentle (?) flame>

I'd want to keep any significant amount of follow-up to this somewhere
else, though, possibly the Trapezium list on Yahoogroups, to which I
subscribe, but often find hard to keep up with.

I'll have to start using Bartleby. It's bookmarked with a high
priority. (If you "prepend" space codes to an Opera browser bookmark,
it sorts toward the top. More spaces means higher...)

Indeed, I probably have misunderstood typical academic use of
"homonym", thinking that it was a fancy word most often used when
"homophone" was meant. Thanks for pointing out the difference. It's
simple enough.

My regards to all,

Nicholas Bodley |@| Waltham, Mass.
Sent by Opera 6.05 e-mail
via TheWorld, using Speakeasy DSL