PROVO, Utah — A blogger and social media specialist for a Provo, Utah-based English language learning center has been fired after writing an article explaining “homophones,” because the school’s owner said it created the perception the school promoted a gay agenda.
Tim Torkildson says after he wrote the blog on the website of his employer, Nomen Global Language Center, he was fired by owner Clarke Woodger because “now our school is going to be associated with homosexuality.” The Salt Lake Tribunereports:
Homophones, as any English grammarian can tell you, are words that sound the same but have different meanings and often different spellings — such as be and bee, through and threw, which and witch, their and there.
This concept is taught early on to foreign students learning English because it can be confusing to someone whose native language does not have that feature.
Torkildson says he was careful to write a straightforward explanation of homophones. He knew the “homo” part of the word could be politically charged, but he thought the explanation of that quirky part of the English language would be educational.
Nomen caters mostly to foreign students who typically know only a basic level of English, and Woodger said he worried that an article about homophones might be confusing or considered offensive. “People at this level of English … may see the ‘homo’ side and think it has something to do with gay sex,” said Woodger. The school has removed the article from from its website, but a similar explanation of homophones was posted in 2011 with apparently no controversy.Since being fired, Torkildson has blogged about the incident on his personal website, claiming that Woodger called his homophones explainer “extremely inappropriate.” “There are hundreds of these (homophones) in the English language, and it is one of the first subjects tackled when teaching ESL (English as a Second Language). It is a subject that has been taught and discussed with absolutely no controversy for well over a hundred years. Until now…”