By Trudy Ring
Originally published on Advocate.com August 04 2014 5:39 PM ET
A language school in Utah has a bad case of homophonia.
Tim Torkildson was fired last month from his job as a social media specialist for the Nomen Global Language Center in Provo after he wrote a blog post on homophones – words that sound the same but are spelled differently and have different meanings. The “homo” portion of the word was apparently too much for Torkildson’s employer.
Torkildson says Nomen owner Clarke Woodger told him, “Now our school is going to be associated with homosexuality,” then fired him, The Salt Lake Tribune reports.
Woodger told the paper that his reaction was not an antigay one, “but that Torkildson had caused him concern because he would ‘go off on tangents’ in his blogs that would be confusing and sometimes could be considered offensive.”
The school teaches English as a second language, primarily to foreign students applying to U.S. colleges and universities. “People at this level of English … may see the ‘homo’ side and think it has something to do with gay sex,” Woodger told the Tribune.
The incident has led media here and abroad, from the left wing and the right, to ridicule Nomen’s decision and defend Torkildson; he has shared many of the stories on his Facebook page. There’s even been a poem written about the subject and a humorous YouTube video (watch below) asserting, among other things, that “homophones are not gay headphones.”
Torkildson, meanwhile, says he has no plans to sue his former employer, although some online commenters are urging him to do so. “The only thing I hate more than one lawyer is two lawyers,” he wrote on his blog.