As we know from English grammar homophones are words that sound the same but have different meanings. These words tend to confuse us a lot, or many times we just roll with the meaning on the context while we’re reading something and never stop to realize what that word really means or if it’s used properly in a sentence.
These homophones have served as an inspiration to Bruce Worden, a scientific illustrator, and cartoonist, who has illustrated their meaning for a better understanding of these words.
He is the creator of the blog Homophones, Weakly, which he started about ten years ago. Earthwonders reached out to him to learn more about his work.
” I kept seeing typos in professionally-published material where the mistake didn’t get noticed because it resulted in another existing word. Sometimes these would be words like Lose and Loose, which aren’t homophones but have similar spellings. But most of the time it would be words like Affect and Effect whose confusion arises because they are homophones. So I consider homophones to be the home base for what I do on the blog, and it branches out a bit from there. I started doing the drawings because I didn’t want to become an old man yelling about typos,” explained the artist.
Worden processes the world through drawings, therefore bringing a new approach to grammar which is super helpful for all those people who think grammar it’s just dull. He publishes illustrations of homophones every Sunday morning. He started with the most basic homophones building up to the tricky ones. The artist shared with us his working process.
“I keep a long list of homophones in a Google spreadsheet. For the first five or six years, I’d pick one set of words every week, do the drawing (digitally, on Illustrator), and post it up on Sunday morning. The deadline was good for keeping me on track, as well as for building an audience. I kept showing up, week after week, and eventually people started to notice, then look forward to it,” added the artist for Earthwonders. “Nowadays the list has grown shorter, and most of what’s left are the tricky ones I haven’t been able to figure out how to draw, so I update the blog much less frequently now.The black-and-white “warning label” design style of the drawings was another limitation I put in place early on, like the weekly deadline, so I wouldn’t spend too much time on each drawing. It also meant I could only choose words to draw if I had a clear sense of how to distill their meanings down into a concise graphic.”
The artist always wanted to transform the blog into a great little book, and that came true when Chronicle Books agreed and published it as the book Homophones Visualized in 2019, which it’s available and can be ordered worldwide.