Saturday, May 6, 2006

Time now for a word from the spelling police...

Ok, let me preface this by saying a few things:

1. I am a writer and have always been above average in the areas of spelling and grammar, thus I cannot help but spot errors in the areas, no matter what I'm reading.

2. I do not believe that blogs or personal e-mail should be places where people have to be totally anal about how they write (unless they want to). They're an informal venue. I get that.

3. While I do try and keep my blog spelling and grammar error free, I admittedly make mistakes, either from being lazy or being in a hurry or whatever. Refer to #2 above. that I've got those disclaimers out of the way...what I want to address are a few pet peeves of mine in the area of spelling, specifically the homonymic trio of peak/peek/pique. I can't tell you how often I see the first two of these used one for the other, nor how often I see one of the first two used when it is really the third the person means to use. Actually, I rarely ever see the third used at all, even when it is the word that should be used.

Peak: What you find at the top of a mountain.
Example: The view was beautiful from the mountain peak.

Peek: What you do between your fingers while watching the scary part of a movie.
Example: I peeked around the tree as the bear chased my friend over the edge of the mountain peak.

Pique: What you do when you're trying to arouse someone's attention or interest.
Example: Perhaps my story has piqued your curiosity, and you will want to take a peek at the peak yourself.

Thus, one cannot "peek" someone's interest (unless they're looking unbidden at that person's bank statement). Nor can they "peak" someone's interest, unless they can figure out how to form it into a point. Alas, you must pique their interest, period.

And speaking of bears...the bear-bare homonyms come in second place for the being misued most often, in my opinion. Just know that you can watch a bear bare his teeth, if you have the nerve. However, do not tell me you cannot bare the sight of it, lest I start to imagine you wearing not a stitch on your bare bottom. Hm...that might even frighten the bears!

Back to our normally scheduled show....

Edited to add: In case anyone cares, there is also a fourth, similar word, piqué, which is defined as a tightly woven fabric with raised patterns, such as waffles or ribbing (think polo shirt collars). It's not truly a homonym to the other two, though, as it is pronounced pi-KAY (the "i" sounding like a long "e" -- "pee"). Just felt the need to be complete. :}