Utah teacher fired after homophone blog

Social media strategist lost job in Utah because school 'didn't want to be linked with homosexuality'

(Image credit: AFP)

A social media strategist says he was fired by a language school in Utah for writing about homophones on the school's website.

Tim Torkildson, who is also a qualified language teacher, claims the owner of the Nomen Global Language Center said he did not want his school "to be associated with homosexuality" after reading a blog post about homophones – words that sound the same but have different meanings, such as 'pause' and 'paws'.

In a post titled 'The homophones got me!" Torkildson said the subject was one of the first to be addressed when teaching English as a second language and had "been taught and discussed with absolutely no controversy for well over a hundred years. Until now."

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

"I'm letting you go because I can't trust you," Clarke Woodger, the owner of the language centre, is alleged to have told him. "This blog about homophones was the last straw. Now our school is going to be associated with homosexuality."

Torkildson said he was aware the 'homo' prefix could be controversial, but said his explanation was straightforward and educational.The post has now been removed from the school's website.

Woodger has denied that his response had anything to do with homosexuality, telling the The Salt Lake Tribune that Torkildson had begun to "go off on tangents", which was confusing students. He also said the subject of homophones was "beyond the level of understanding" of most of the students at the language school.

He told the paper that "people at this level of English … may see the 'homo' side and think it has something to do with gay sex."

To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us