Fun with cot/caught

Passed on by Jeff Shaumeyer on Facebook, about the story “RCMP say vicious beating of gay man at St. Leon’s Hot Springs a hate crime” in the Arrow Lake News (BC):

It’s a vicious hate-crime and the RCMP should get their man, although it may take a bit longer if they keep looking for “….a Caucasian male standing at about 6 feet tall (180 cm), around 44-years-old with a stalky, muscular build.” ‘Stalky’? Like celery?

What we have here is an instance of the a-ɔ merger (the merger in cotcaught and many other pairs), in favor of ɔ, so that stocky is pronounced like stalky. And then the journalist spelled by ear. Possibly the journalist thought that stockiness had something to do with height, as in stalks, which would make the misspelling an eggcorn.

And indeed among the cot/caught mergers in the Eggcorn Database is stock >> stalk (entry here), but chiefly in stalk-still for stock-still.

2 Responses to “Fun with cot/caught

  1. arnold zwicky Says:

    From Jeff Shaumeyer:

    In cases like this I sometimes wonder whether the interviews were taken over the phone and whether that contributes. I have somewhere an example of a news story about a Bishop in which his “crozier” was misheard as “crow’s ear”.

  2. nick Says:

    This reminds me of the possibly apocryphal story of the newspaper which was forced to publish a correction after announcing that a wedding reception had taken place ‘at the home of the bride’s father’. The true location was, it transpired, ‘The Old Manse’ – the unfortunate journalist had evidently misheard ‘The Old Manse’ as ‘the old man’s’…

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