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JIM ‘PAPPY’ MOORE: When Words Sound the Same

By Jim “Pappy” Moore

Because English derives words from several languages, we have a plethora of words which either sound the same, or sound similarly. Accept and Except are frequently used interchangeably when they are not. Except means to exclude. Accept means to include.

Insight and Incite sound exactly the same. Insight means to see the meaning. Incite means to start some ruckus. 

Having keen insight is a sign of wisdom, even brilliance.  We consider it a compliment to be considered insightful.  But we do not want to be considered inciteful, unless stirring up dissension is our goal.  To incite is to provoke action.  “Inciting a riot” remains a criminal act in America.  If someone says you are insightful, you’ll want to assure they’re not saying you’re inciteful. While not considered a word in some dictionaries, inciteful is a perfectly good word according to The Oxford English Dictionary.  If the people at Oxford says it’s a good English word, I’m going to have to agree with them.

Sanction is a two-way word. It can mean to authorize some action, or it can mean to punish some action. That literally makes no sense, but it’s that way. 

Flammable and inflammable both mean exactly the same thing, but both are used to describe something which can catch fire.

Two words sound the same, but they’re not spelled the same and they don’t mean the same. Sight and Site have very different meanings, and they too can be used to identify very different things in our world. Sight means to see something. Site means a place. Cite means to refer to some source. “I wrote a cite to the site which discussed the sighting of a comet.”

In the world of the internet, we speak daily of websites or online sites.  There are construction sites where homes and buildings are erected.  There are popular sites for tourists to visit.  And when they visit them, they may say “we are seeing the sights!” 

Our sight is our ability to see things.  Or, it can be our ability to envision things.  It can be the things we behold, the sights we see.  It can be our ability to see or the things which we see. 

“You are a sight for sore eyes!”  There’s a greeting we like to hear when coming upon someone we have not seen in a while.  “My eye sight isn’t what it used to be.”  Or perhaps, “I haven’t even combed my hair yet today. I’m such a sight!”  

Unless we are reading about turmoil in America’s cities or unrest in far away places, we do not see or hear incite much. But in the news which covers such matters, incite is one of the things about which we hear constantly.  There are riots incited by mob violence protesting domestic conditions at home.  There are attacks on embassies abroad incited by sentiments hostile to American interests.  There are groups and leaders, at home and abroad, who like to incite others to protest or violence. 

One particularly well-known billionaire has made much money on currency manipulations which are sometimes tied to unrest he helps incite across the globe. By funneling money to various groups in worldwide hot spots, he essentially funds the activities and protestors who get the riots on television and make them noteworthy events. He has keen insight into the use of major media to promote his social and economic agenda.

Sometimes we need second sight just to know what’s really going on.

Copyright 2022, Jim “Pappy” Moore. All rights reserved.

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