… from Karen Schaffer: on trickle treat, and on gangbang and gangbanger.
Archive for the ‘Eggcorns’ Category
As I sit at my computer, I can see, out the front window, over the patio wall, the trees in the back of the Palo Alto downtown library, currently featuring an American sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua) in its bright red fall coloring. A very cheering sight. A stock photo from the net:
From Kristin Bergen on Facebook:
a wonderful eggcorn from a FB teaching discussion group: a colleague reports a senior seminar paper in which the student describes something happening “right from the gecko”
A delightful error (evoking an entertaining image), and surely a type of classical malapropism (CM) — a type I’ll label a Ruthie (after the character of that name in the comic strip One Big Happy) — but not an instance of the subtype of CM known in the error literature as an eggcorn, though to be fair to Kristin it’s significantly similar to eggcorns.
Two recent One Big Happy cartoons with Ruthie’s misinterpretations of what she’s heard: a simple one today, and a very complex one a little while back:
Passed on by Karen Chung on Facebook, yesterday’s Daddy’s Home:
Pass mustard for pass muster is in the Eggcorn Database; it substitutes a familiar lexical item for a less familiar one (in this case, in an idiom). Semantically, pass mustard has the advantage over pass muster by consisting of familiar items, but the contribution of mustard to the meaning of the whole is not at all clear, so this looks like a demi-eggcorn.
The cartoon has another extension of mustard to the territory of muster, this time for metaphorical muster ‘summon up’ (with direct objects denoting feelings, attitudes, or responses), originally based on the military verb muster (as in muster troops). Again, it’s hard to see how mustard is a semantic improvement here.
On his Baltimore Sun blog, John McIntyre (mild-mannered copy editor) has been posting repeatedly on the Associated Press’s decision to (finally) cease objecting to over used for ‘more than’. The latest chapter:
Write about language, as about climate change or evolution, and what do you get? A strident chorus of denial. I wonder why.
Last week Tom Chivers wrote about English grammar at The Telegraph, patiently explaining why a good deal of what has been taught about grammar is unsound and what linguists, Geoffrey Pullum in particular, have discovered in examining how we speak and write.
… Writing later at Language Log, Professor Pullum evaluated the comments thus: “Discussion seemed to be dominated by an army of nutballs who often hadn’t read the article. They seemed to want (i) a platform from which to assert some pre-formed opinion about grammar, or (ii) a chance to insult someone who had been the subject of an article, or (iii) an opportunity to publicly beat up another commenter.”
As is so often the case, the liberating openness of Internet discussion turns out to resemble an argument about sports terms among people who have had too much to drink as last call nears.
I’ve been musing about what lies beneath all the fury.
Perhaps the simplest explanation is the phenomenon labeled mumpsimus. People are disposed to stick with what they have come to think of as stable knowledge, and the more it is explained to them that they are mistaken, the more they cling to error.
My eye was caught by mumpsimus.
From the (Palo Alto) Daily News of October 4th, this letter from Tejinder Uberoi of Los Altos:
Unconcerned that the nation is going to hell in a hen basket, the tired old men of the Republican Party are circling the wagons in a last-ditch effort to defund the Affordable Care Act.
Hen basket (or henbasket) for handbasket (or hand basket), making somewhat more sense of an opaque idiom (opaque for people who aren’t familiar with the compound handbasket) whose only virtue appears to be its alliteration; well, you collect eggs in a basket. Still, such a basket is awfully small for going to hell in, as is a handbasket.