Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Georgia's Pole Tax - What a Difference that "e" Makes

Apparently the state of Georgia is considering passing a tax that would charge gentlemen's club visitors an extra $5 fee at the door. The tax has been humorously dubbed the "pole tax" as a playful variation on the well-known "poll tax". Regarding the name of this new tax, in the March 16th issue of Newsweek a writer commented about "what a difference that 'e' makes."

Well, what difference does that "e" make? It is certainly not a phonetic difference because poll and pole are homophones. The "e" definitely makes a difference orthographically, however, because the difference is noticeable in print. Obviously, though, the most important difference the "e" makes, and the difference to which the writer was undoubtedly referring, is the semantic difference.

A poll tax is a fixed amount of money that a person must pay as a requirement for the right to vote.

And a pole tax is...well, you get the idea.


On a separate note, it is not just the "e" that makes the difference it is also the deletion of one of the "l's." If it were simply adding an "e" to poll then we would be talking about a chicken tax.

1 comment:

Erin Davis said...

I have a lot of college students who write "pole" when they really mean "poll." Hmmm..

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