Tertius is studying homophones in third grade.
Now it always amazes me that the English language puts up with so many common words that sound the same, when we have an abundance of great nonsense syllables going spare.
Confused between a "symbol" and a "cymbal"? Then let's give the percussion instrument a suitably onomatopoeic name instead -- a "blash" or a "tsissss."
Muddled over "popery" versus "potpourri"? Then drop the pretentious French and stick a bowl of Anglo-Saxon "flergle" or "sneffering" in the bathroom. ("I'll take flergle for $300, Alex.")
We had a timely encounter with a homophone the other day. I mention that some of my forbears were living in Whitechapel at the time of the Jack the Ripper murders, which throws up the phrase "serial killer." From the back seat of the minivan, Tertius questions why anyone wants to stab Cheerios to death.*
(This may not be the time, then, to repeat my rather good joke about the body found wearing a bowler hat with an apple nailed to its face and a melting watch stuffed down its throat -- the work of a surreal killer. Sorry.)
Similar confusions from the past couple of weeks. What were they fighting for in the Silver War? (Silver . . . ? Oh, Civil War. Mind you, explaining to a child why any war is called "civil" has its own issues.)
And this morning, dealing with the very acute observation that we don't speak of one pant, one slack, one short, one tight, one britch, etc., Tertius notes that "pants" is a "puerile" word.
Yes. Yes, it is. "Trousers" is much more grown-up.
*Because they was looking at me well funny, innit.