Archive for the ‘Eggcorns’ Category


April 2, 2014

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.


Genital plants

December 15, 2013

Two cards in succession in the Art of Instruction set: acorns and arums, both visually similar to human genitals, a fact recognized in some of the common names for the plants.


Today’s fine eggcorn

October 5, 2013

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.


Odds and ends 8/14/13

August 14, 2013

An assortment of short notes that have come my way recently, on errors, back-formations, penguins, gender roles, and more.


Briefly noted: mind-bottling

May 18, 2013

Just went past me on KFJC (Foothill College in Los Altos Hills CA), in an aural montage, this exchange from the 2007 movie Blades of Glory:

Chazz: Mind-bottling, isn’t it?

Jimmy: Did you just say mind-bottling?

Chazz: Yeah, mind-bottling. You know, when things are so crazy it gets your thoughts all trapped, like in a bottle? (link)

A lovely eggcorn for mind-boggling (noted on the Eggcorn Forum, but not yet in the database), complete with the mark of a great eggcorn find, the speaker’s rationalization for the form they use.


An unfortunate mishearing

April 9, 2013

From Victor Steinbok on ADS-L, a link to a HuffPost Comedy posting with this photograph:


One Big Happy roundup

March 17, 2013

Four recent language-related cartoons from Rick Detorie’s strip One Big Happy (information on the strip here): two with mishearings/eggcorns, one on consonant clusters, and one on ambiguity.


perils of wisdom

March 13, 2013

Reported this morning by Mike Jankulak from a mailing list he’s subscribed to:

Also Ryan, I had sent you a question on the other group in hope you might have some perils of wisdom to share there.

(Perils of wisdom for pearls of wisdom.) In context, this doesn’t seem intentional, but the question is what sort of unintentional error it represents: an eggcorn, a mishearing, a simple misspelling, or what? These things are often hard to decide, and the perpetrators might or might not be able to shed light on things. And of course the source of one occurrence might be different from the sources of others.


Eggcorns on the net

February 21, 2013

Today’s “A.Word.A.Day” posting from Anu Garg is about the word eggcorn.


concordance ‘example, occurrence’

January 30, 2013

Back on December 5, Lynne Murphy reported in Facebook about an essay-marking game — drinking a shot of liquor or eating something whenever a particular expression occurred in a student essay:

‘concordance’ to mean ‘example found in a corpus’, as in ‘COCA has three concordances of this collocation’.

… I’ve read this so many times, that I actually looked it up to see if this terminology was polysemous in ways I had not yet appreciated.

(No evidence for it I could find in dictionaries.)

So an error, but what kind? Mishearing (of occurrences)? Classical malapropism (perhaps as a result of learning the technical term concordance)? Eggcorn? Examples like this can be remarkably hard to classify.



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