Opinion: Word play


For many, the English language is fundamentally difficult to learn. There are countless words that mean different things but are spelled the same. Many others are spelled differently and have different meanings but are pronounced identically, and still more are spelled the same but have different meanings and pronunciations. Here, it would seem, context is everything, and most discern from the various possible intentions by the other words that come before and after the one in question. Word games, even among those of us who might call the English language our native tongue, can become impossibly complex, absent sufficient framework to help one discern the meaning.

Still, for those of us who enjoy the mental exercise of language, homonyms, homophones and homographs make rich fodder for double entendre and farce-like confusion.  Games like Wordle, Scrabble, Wordscapes, crosswords, or clever vanity license plates challenge us to open our perspective and sharpen our wit.

An electric car owner might express their freedom from the pump with the plate BYBY GAS. In saying bye, bye to traditional fossil fuel, they are no longer required to “buy buy” at the filling station.  OK, it all makes good sense and is terrific word play. But a significant percentage of our government road programs are paid for via fuel taxes. Good again. User taxes often make sense and are the fairest. But if we all “buy buy” electric vehicles, who is now supporting the infrastructure fees? Should electric utilities collect a percentage of their bills as a “plug-in” apportionment? Or are the folks left with traditional internal combustion engines footing more of the cost, and are  those of us who are e-capable escaping the taxman? Maybe they should. Is it only in the context of our intended policy that we can decide?