Homophones, as any English teacher or professor can tell you, are words that sound the same but have different meanings and different spellings, like as be and bee, through and threw, which and witch, their and there.
This concept is taught early on to foreign students who are learning English because it can be confusing to someone whose native language does not have that feature.
But when social-media specialist for a private Provo-based English language learning center wrote a blog explaining the concept
, he was released for creating the perception that the school actually promoted a gay agenda.
Tim Torkildson says that after he wrote the blog on the website of his employer, Nomen Global Language Center, his boss, Nomen owner Clarke Woodger, called him into his office and told him promptly that he was fired.
As Torkildson said, Woodger said that he could not trust him and that the blog about homophones was the last straw.
"Now our school is going to be associated with homosexuality," Woodger stated, according to Torkildson, who posted the exchange on his Facebook page
Torkildson says that he was careful to write a straightforward explanation of homophones. He knew the "homo" part of the word could be politically charged, but he thought the explanation of that quirky part of the English language would be educational for readers.
Nomen has since removed that blog from its website, but a similar explanation of homophones was posted there in 2011 with no controversy.
Woodger says that his reaction to Torkildson’s blog had nothing to do with homosexuality, but that Torkildson had caused him concern because he would "go off on tangents" in many of his blogs and would be confusing and could be considered offensive.
Nomen is Utah’s largest private English as a Second Language school and caters to foreign students seeking admission to U.S. colleges and universities. Woodger says that his school has taught 6,500 students from 58 countries during the past 15 years. Most of them, he stated, are at basic levels of English proficiency and are not ready for more complicated concepts such as homophones.