Oh, what a difference a "p" makes. According to Wikipedia, the 16th letter of our alphabet is a voiceless bilabial plosive, and I won't argue with that. Wiki further enlightens me that P stands for Pluto in astronomy, for pitcher in baseball, for page in bibliography, for phosphorous in chemistry, for pawn in chess, for price in economics and for park in the automatic transmission gear of a motor vehicle. All of these things make sense to me, which is really surprising.
When I first took the job here at The Mirror, I was a life-long resident of Thomson's suburb, Augusta, so I was unfamiliar with the p-less city. As a writer, I had no trouble catching on, though. They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks. Having only lived in Thomson for one year, I'm not calling myself an old dog, because I did learnto leave the "p" out. The trouble is, I forget to put it in when I'm supposed to. Recently, when writing an article about Temple-Inland, I wrote that the plant manager was Larry Thomson. Fortunately, we have great proof-readers here at The Mirror, and the printed edition of the paper correctly contained the 16th letter in Mr. Thomson's - I mean, Mr. Thompson's name.
And in my short time here, I have seen some life-long residents who have put the "p" in our city's name. To protect their identity, I won't mention names. Also, last week, I received a tip that a sign in our own post office contained the letter "p" in Thomson. However, I went and checked it out, and found no such sign.
Back to Wiki - the online encyclopedia also states that those who speak Arabic have difficulty pronouncing the "p" sound, so they pronounce it like "b" instead. Since I don't have any close Arabic friends, I won't argue with that point, either. It does make me wonder, though, the effect that would have on "Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers."
Speaking of pronunciation, my cohorts and I have been expressing confusion over the pronunciation of SPLOST. It seems when we cover tax-related issues, invariably someone always says "SPLOSH." This hasn't happened once, but many times. The first time I heard it, I spent most of the meeting distracted, trying to figure out what SPLOSH stands for. Simply Punching Language Out Single Handedly? Singing Pigs Licking Old Salty Hams? Swedish Police Looking Over Southern Holland? Superintendent Petersen Legits Orthodox School Holidays? Swanky People Love Old Southern Hospitality?
And that brings me back to Thomson: for those who are passing through, there's no "p" in our town, and we'd like to keep it that way.