Welcome to this edition of Words For Thought, the blog on wordrefiner.com. Like many of the previous blogs we are looking at homophones. Words that sound the same but have different spellings and meanings.
I understand how important it is to have an error free manuscript. With over 40 years of experience, I have found that homophones give almost every writer fits and difficulties. Because we sound words out in our mind, it is easy to write the wrong word.
Let’s not forget typographical errors also, a slip of the finger on the keyboard can create a different word that may not be caught by a spell-checker. There are many groups of words that vary by only one letter, such as vary and very, or must, mist and most.
The correctly spelled word in the wrong context will not be flagged by most spell-checkers. Word Refiner is dedicated to uprooting all of these hidden errors and providing your document free of spelling errors that you want and deserve.
Now, onto today’s episode!
Today we have some interesting words, of course, all words are interesting; they have histories, growth and migrations; they move around quite a bit sometimes. Words are part of the baggage that people carry with them wherever they go. Two of these words are fairly regional, commonly used in areas with active seaports. Two of these words might be mispronounced, more on that later. These words are borrowed from the Romance languages like so many others.
Quay can be traced to French several centuries ago it was spelled “quai” and is related to Old Spanish “cayo”. Beyond that in the 14th century it was “keye”, and with a Celtic origin as “kai”. The definition of quay is a structure for loading and unloading ships running parallel to the shore. Serving as a breakwater is another function of a quay, slowing down the intensity of incoming waves. This is unlike a pier or wharf, which are built perpendicular from the shore and stick out into the water.
Cay is from the early 1700’s and is from Spanish. Like the previous word, it has origins in “cayo”. Some think it is related to quay also. Cay is a small sandy island on top of coral. Many of them are nearly submerged by high tides, some completely. This word is used very frequently in the Caribbean. These little islands are frequented by sea birds and crabs of different kinds.
Key is actually closely related to the two previous words in one of its definitions. When you search for key on Google, the second version is similar in definition to both quay and cay. Most of us know it primarily as a small metallic object with notches used to lock and unlock doors or padlocks. Of course there are the devices that I am using to type this blog: the keys of my laptop keyboard. There are standardized tests that have an answer key to facilitate correcting the tests. There are uses in music and other disciplines as well.
Now it is later, let us talk about pronunciations. The definition of a homophone is two or more words that sound the same but are spelled differently. Some people might think these three words are not homophone, maybe two of them, but not all three. If you use Google again, you will find that all three can be pronounced the same and pronounced differently. They can all be pronounced as “kee”, my choice today. I have chosen to treat them as homophones for the purposes of this blog. Feel free to disagree with me at length in a cordial fashion.
There they are, three words with identical sounds and a somewhat related history. If you use the wrong word the reader might think they hit an unknown speed bump and lose the momentum you worked so hard to build. Use every tool available to prevent that from happening, do not give your readers a reason to not finish your story. Use Word Refiner, beta readers, critique partners, proofreaders and editors to ensure that your work is error free and as smooth as possible.
Thanks for stopping by, we hope you enjoyed this issue of Homophones Hurt Your Writing on Words For Thought. Follow us on twitter: @wordrefiner, for more alerts about hazardous homophones search for #HomophonesHurtYourWriting or #TyposHurtYourWriting on twitter.
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Remember: Words Have Meaning and Spelling Makes a Difference.
Copyright © 2015 Mark L Schultz
An avid reader and hyper speller. I am a husband, father, and grandfather.
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