Thursday, April 16, 2009

Trifecta: Peak, Peek, and Pique

The Grammar Nazi, for reasons that are becoming more clear, is considering a name change: Word Nazi. Thus far, all of my posts under this guise have been on spelling and word choice, not grammar. The only things that compel me to stick with the Grammar Nazi monicker is its broad applicbaility and ubiquitous meaning.

That, however, is only a trivial matter. On to today's business.

First, the mantra. Pursue pursue pursue pursue pursue. It's getting easier. Part of my trouble may be that pursue is awkward to type. Almost, in fact, as awkward as awkward.

Today's egregious sin is the phonetic confusion of three words:

peak, meaning the pinnacle, or top;

peek, meaning (verb) to take a quick, furtive glance, and (noun) a quick, furtive glance, and;

pique, meaning to provoke, arouse, or stir.

Say each word in rapid succession and you won't hear a difference in pronunciation. That won't change if you mix the order and say them slowly, either, as all three words are pronounced the same. All three words, however, have pronounced difference in meaning.

Peak, as far as I can tell, seems to be the preferred spelling, or misspelling, as it were. See peak misused for peek here, and peak misused for pique here. (Do a word search; the Grammar Nazi can't do everything for you.)

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