A Ruthian eggcorn

The One Big Happy from the 24th:


Ruthie wasn’t familiar with the word synchronized in the conventionalized composite synchronized swimming, so she interpreted t as best she could, and so it became sink-n-cries, which makes a lot more sense (as her father notes).

Note 1. Even her father, who knows the conventional expression perfectly well, has trouble retrieving it, working his way awkwardly through his mental lexicon:

psycho… synco… synchro… syncopated?… synchronized!… synchronized swimming!

Note 2. on the specificity of the composite. Yes, synchronized swimming involves swimming that is synchronized — with something, in some way, for some purpose, and the answers to those questions are packed into the synchronized of synchronized swimming and cannot be predicted from knowing what synchronize(d) means. Now, from Wikipedia:

Synchronised swimming [synchro for short, sometimes referred to as water ballet] is a hybrid form of swimming, dance and gymnastics, consisting of swimmers (either solos, duets, trios, combos, or teams) performing a synchronised routine of elaborate moves in the water, accompanied by music. Athletes can perform solos and compete in most other competitions.

Synchronised swimming demands advanced water skills, and requires great strength, endurance, flexibility, grace, artistry and precise timing, as well as exceptional breath control when upside down underwater.


The gender connection. Synchro is a “body sport” judged, in part, on form (like gymnastics, diving, or figure skating), and it’s also art, a kind of dance. Both counts set up a strong association of the activity with femininity, and indeed, synchronized swimming is generally seen as the province of women, to the point where male synchro has struggled to get recognition as an Olympic sport: male synchro strikes lots of people as effeminate, or just silly, and male-pair synchro has the same problems as male couples in dance or figure skating.

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