Until very recently, Timothy Torkildson blogged for the Nomen Global Language Center
-- an ESL school in Provo
, Utah. Earlier this month, Mr. Torkildson wrote a blog post explaining why homophones can be a difficult concept for new English speakers to grasp. Then, he was fired.
In his original post entitled "Help with Homophones," Torkildson wrote, "In English, a homophone is a word that has several different meanings and spellings, but always sounds the same. The best way to learn these tricky words is to memorize them little by little: 'Ad' is an advertisement. 'Add' is a mathematical function."
Torkildson says his boss, Clarke Woodger, expressed concern that because of his use of the term homophone, "people might think it talked about some kind of gay agenda."
When asked if Woodger knew the definition of the word, Torkildson says
Woodger had to look it up in the dictionary after he read the blog.
His former employer confirmed the incident in the Salt Lake Tribune, "...people at this level of English," Woodger said, "may see the 'homo' side and think it has something to do with gay sex."
Torkildson describes the moment when he found out he was fired, "I was struck dumb. I really didn't say anything at all. My first thought was, 'I've lost my job. I wonder if I can get a good reference from him.'"
Torkildson, who used to work as a circus clown, sums up the experience this way, "Life usually is just a big joke. This is just another piece of the joke. That's how I want to treat it."
He worked at the center for less than three months before he was fired. Torkildson says he's grateful to Woodger for having offered him the job.
And now, some homophone love: