Swim Funnies

As the parent of a competitive swimmer, I enter her in many meets every year and, as a result, I read a LOT of meet entries. They can be anywhere from a couple of pages to a dozen pages or more.

I’m only going to call attention to the first sentence by saying it could be fixed with a semicolon after participate (unlikely) or with a period after participate and a capital “T” in they. Now, onto the more interesting homophone issues.

Sometimes swim teams will have a meet for their team only, which allows the coaches to assess where to place the swimmers in a “real” meet. This is sometimes called an uno meet, because it is just one team participating. When there are two teams, it is sometimes called a dual meet. I never thought about calling them duel meets, as the author of this entry did, but the misuse is amusing.

It’s not nearly as amusing as the replacement of president for precedent. In saying these words out loud, you notice that the “s” in president sounds more like a “z” than the softer “s” in precedent. These are not pure homophones like “dual” and “duel”.  Also, when you break the words down, preside and precede mean very different things. The first means to hold a place of authority, while the other means to surpass in rank, or go before.

It still amazes me how changing a letter or two can change a word’s meaning so greatly.


1 Comment

Filed under homophones, our complex language

One response to “Swim Funnies

  1. Tiffany Hamil

    Oh, the ‘duel’ meet. As a former swimmer, I remember this word fondly. Even as a middle school student I knew the difference between them, and always giggled when I saw it in print. I’m not much of a fighter, so I guess I probably wouldn’t have ended up with very many ribbons or medals, huh?

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