|Does the team drink polish?|
In an online group for authors, Jessica Bell announced that she is writing a book called Polish Your Fiction: A Quick & Easy Self-Editing Guide.
I started reading her post twice and each time -- for an instant -- I thought that "Polish" was referring to someone from Poland.
Polish and polish are heteronyms -- words written identically (or identically except for uppercasing the first letter) but having different pronunciations and meanings.
The meaning of a heteronym usually becomes apparent because of its context, but if you can avoid ambiguity and delay -- do so.
- Try to keep heteronyms out of the titles of your books, blog posts and websites. If you cause a reader to hesitate, you may lose her.
- Push a homonym out of the first position in a sentence. Try inserting a 'helper' word to precede a homonym so readers know what's going on. "Please Polish . . . " or "Why You Should Polish . . ." prepares readers to absorb the correct word.
- Heteronyms can cause problems even within text. Does "I read a lot of books" take place in the present tense or in the past? A 'helper' like "did" or "do" or "last year" can remove the ambiguity, as can rewriting the sentence.
- The position of a word in a line of text can cause a stumble. If the last two words in a line of text are "A sewer," "The bass" or "I read," the pronunciation and meaning might not be apparent until the reader reads the words on the next line.
- Uppercasing and lowercasing can clarify the difference between Polish and polish, but not between Bass and bass.
- A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
- Do you know what a buck does to does?
- They were too close to the door to close it.
- The buck does funny things when does are present.
- Don't desert me here in the desert!
- When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
- The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
- How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?
- With every number I read, my mind gets number and number.
- He could lead if he would get the lead out.
- After a number of injections my jaw got number.
- I did not object to the object.
- We must polish the Polish furniture.
- He thought it was time to present the present.
- The farm was used to produce produce.
- The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
- There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
- A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.
- To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
- I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
- Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.
- The weather was beginning to affect his affect
- The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
- The bandage was wound around the wound.