Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Grammar Nazi Hoist by His Own Petard

When I started these Grammar Nazi posts, I noted, with a few exceptions, that I am not a perfect individual, particularly in the grammar and spelling department. Today, I offer an example of that imperfection, one that shows how I was led down the incorrect path by the bugaboo I harp about in others: phonics.

Today we discuss the difference between aerial and areal. Look closely, those of you who don't recognize that second word. For it is a real word. It is pronounced the same way as aerial, but their meanings are as different as the sky and the sea.

Aerial -- the version I used -- refers to the air, the sky, and the moon up above, as in aerial photography, or photographs taken from the air.

Areal -- the version I should have used -- is the adjectival form of the noun area. In this sense, areal refers to a specific area or extent, as defined here by Though areal could refer to an area in the sky, it has as much to do with aerial as television aerials have to do with cable TV.

So I am humbled, today, by having learned something new.

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