Homophones (words that are written differently but pronounced in the same way) are a big problem for people learning English: week and weak, no and know (but not now) and many, many others. It is said that with the decline in standards English native speakers also have problems and are making more and more mistakes with such words. Recently I saw that a member of the public had confused the words right and rite (which means a ceremony or ritual) in a message on the BBC’s web site. That was unfortunate but not very surprising. I was, however, very surprised the other day to see that the same mistake had been made in 1992 by the writer John Mortimer in his story Rumpole and the Children of the Devil, where he writes that a child is accused of ‘indulging in devil-worship, hellish rituals and satanic rights.’ Well, human rights are one thing and satanic rights are something rather different. But what the author meant was certainly ‘satanic rites’.