Quiz time! Let’s do a play on words.

What is a nine-letter-long English word that, each time a letter is removed, is still an English word, with nine to one letter removals?

The word is: STARTLING

Remove the L, and you have STARTING.

Remove one T, and you have STARING.

Remove the A, and you have STRING.

Remove the R, and you have STING.

Remove the other T, and you have SING.

Remove the G, and you have SIN.

Remove the S, and you have IN.

Remove the N, and you have I.

How about that? As I’ve often said, the English language is a tough one. How about a quiz on homophones. Homophones are words that sound alike, whether or not they are spelled differently. The words pear (fruit), pare (cut off) and pair (two of a kind) are homophones that are of different spelling. Meanwhile, bear (animal) and bear (carry or support) are homophones that are spelled alike.

I’ll make it easy on you and give you a list of homophones that sound alike, but are spelled differently. See if you know the different meanings. I’m not going to give you the answers. Everyone should have a dictionary and it will be a good exercise to see if you know the differences.

affect/effect; alter/altar; altogether/all together; bazaar/bizarre; capital/capitol; council/counsel; current/currant; dual/duel; ensure/insure; heroin/heroine; practice/practice; principal/principle; tact/tack; straight/strait.

How did you do?

C.P.S. (Curious Postscript): “It always looks darkest just before it gets totally black.” — Charlie Brown

Curious about something? Send your questions to Dr. Jerry D. Wilson, College of Science and Mathematics, Lander University, Greenwood, SC 29649, or e-mail jerry@curiosity-corner.net. Selected questions will appear in the Curiosity Corner. For Curiosity Corner background, go to curiosity-corner.net.