Homophoning and Malaproping

I don’t usually discuss copy editing, grammar and punctuation here on this blog, but beyond there, their, and they’re is a whole host of words that can get written incorrectly in the draft because you’re more attuned to hearing language than writing it.


This error tends to show a lack of reading. Why? Because we interact with language first with our ears. It’s how we learn to speak, listening and repeating back what our parents and others who respond to our baby attempts at communication. If you’re frequently misusing words that sound the same, read a little more to straighten things out.

A child’s hearing impairment or speech impediment becomes very evident when their words have dropped sounds, or they round off a sound…because they can’t make it or they literally never correctly heard when it was spoken to them. “Dere” for “there” is an example. “

Misquoted lyrics – ever been in a loud raucous dance club and you wonder why these are all misheard lyrics? And incorrect idioms? Many of these have been so widely spread without correction that people insistent that the incorrect way is actually correct. Sorry, it still isn’t. It’s an editor’s business to know that. And fix it. The most common one I encounter is “Another thing coming.” The phrase is the latter part of “If that’s what they think, they’ve got another think coming.” The criticism being shared is about what a person is thinking, not what a person is “thinging.” I’ll only leave it alone if it’s in dialogue, for characterization purposes.


Some misheard and miswritten phrases lead to malapropisms, or funny turns of phrase that seem to have their own logic, or create an impression that, well, it could work. Intentionally using malaprops, to give a speaker some characterization, is one thing, but a “wonton” is a chinese food while a “wanton” is in search of more sexual delights.

~ Lara

A laugh for you to enjoy. Not mine. “Word Crimes” is by the great “Weird Al” Yankovic

Published by Lara Zielinsky

I have been writing and publishing for 20 years. I have been an editor of fiction for 15+ years. I am married, live in Florida and work from home full time as an editor.

One thought on “Homophoning and Malaproping

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: