The pursuit of the English language - how to interpret it, how to use it - is a life-long pursuit. That's just as true for those of us employing it as a second language as it is for those of us born to it. Note that word, pursuit.
Enriching your English can be a downright dreary chore if you decide it's a downright dreary chore. But if you ease up a bit, no matter your age or station in life, and simply accept that mining English is an opportunity which never ends, then it can be quite a lot of fun along the way. Your choice.
This is the last of six neat little booklets intended for people dancing day-by-day with the intriguing twists and turns of English. In the previous five volumettes (Could there be such a word? Why not? English is supple) my language mentor, Deborah Wright, has given us a succinct and practical look at matters of punctuation, spelling, grammar, capitalization and the use of numbers and confused and misused words. She has framed some simple rules. It has been helpful and it hasn't hurt a bit.

Which brings us to homonyms, those intriguing words which bear more than one meaning, even while being spelled the same. Like duck, the bird, and duck, the sky is falling. Perhaps homonyms are a kind of joke laid on us by the gods of language, to keep us humble. The English language, like golf, can certainly keep us humble.


To complete the collection, and entertain yourself at the same time, read on about homonyms. And here's a stimulating game for you. There are more than 101 of these critters floating about out there in language land. So take a good look at her choices, peruse the double meanings to oil the wheels in your memory, then poke about among the words in your vocabulary for other examples. Above all, turn it into a little fun. If using English well is a challenge to last a lifetime, you might as well relax and enjoy it.

Don Vipond
Former editorial page editor
Times-Colonist, Victoria, BC