What a difference one tiny letter makes. There are cartoon strips devoted to plays on words that involve the slip of a letter. I’m sure we all have our stories of disaster from a typo that precipitated a completely unforeseen and opposing chain of events to the one intended.

Take the words summoned and summonsed for example. Summoned means that someone has requested your presence. There’s a degree of politeness involved, and there’s the implication of choice in there as well.

Summonsed, on the other hand, with the addition of an innocuous ‘s’ in the middle of the word, kind of means the same thing but doesn’t at all. It carries legal weight, you’re being forced, against your will, to attend. Choice doesn’t come into it.

One letter difference, a big difference in meaning. I’m sure there are myriad others, but that one stuck me quote forcefully the other day.

Advertisements