Archive for the ‘Errors’ Category

At the eggcorn’s edge

August 15, 2018

Two cartoons from the 11th, passed on to me by Benita Bendon Campbell, both turning on (mis)perceptions and (mis)interpretations:


(#1) Family Circusguest towel / guess towel (cf. brand-new / bran-new)


(#2) Luanncake stand / keg stand (cf. acorn / egg corn)

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Briefly noted: a syntagmatic blending

July 29, 2018

Beth Huizenga, reading the weather report on KQED-FM (in San Francisco) this morning:

morning drog … uh … fog and drizzle

The textbook inadvertent syntagmatic error here would have been the telescoping frizzle (since fog apparently preceded drizzle in the printed report). The suppression of the and is not so surprising, since similar suppressions occur in some of the telescopings Vicki Fromkin collected in the appendix to her Speech Errors as Linguistic Evidence (1973): shrig souffle < shrimp and egg souffle, prodeption of speech < production and perception of speech.

But the ordering is odd. In fact, drog looks like a textbook inadvertent paradigmatic error, a blend of two items competing for the same slot in production. So, an interesting mixed case.

 

 

The ants are my friends?

July 28, 2018

Through friends on Facebook, a 7/30/12 Captain Scratchy cartoon (by Chuck Ingwersen) “The Wiener Dog Is Annoyed”, in which a dachshund and a pug are transfixed in panel 1 by small black dots on the ground between them, from which these sounds are emanating:

🎶Just like me, they long to be … close to you. 🎶

🎶Rainy days and Mondays always get me down. 🎶

🎶We’ve only just begun. 🎶

— upon which, in panel 2, the dachshund growls:

CRAP, WE’VE GOT CARPENTER ANTS.

(To get this, you need to know that carpenter ants are a real thing — not a stretch — and you really need to know about Karen and Richard Carpenter and their songs from 1970-71.)

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Nacho flies are back

July 26, 2018

That’s what I heard in a Taco Bell television commercial on Tuesday the 24th. I visualized insects with tortilla chip wings. Decidedly odd: was Taco Bell being besiged by these nacho flies, and, if so, why were they telling us about it?

Then I realized it must be nacho fries; my confusion stemmed in part from the fact that I’d never heard of nacho fries — I don’t keep up with the fast-food business — and though I know what nachos are, I had no clear idea of what something called nacho fries would be would be like.

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Hybrid referent, portmanteau name

July 24, 2018

On the NPR word game quiz show Says You! broadcast by KQED-FM on Sunday afternoon (the 22nd): a “bluff round” over the word flumpet. One team of panelists is offered three definitions for the word from the other team, in this case (paraphrasing, since I can’t find the podcast of the original):

1: a lard-based dumpling (no doubt suggested by the /ʌmp/ and the /l/ in flumpet and dumpling)

2: a frowsy (or frowzy), loose woman, and by extension flowers that are wilted, no longer fresh (no doubt suggested by a rhyming association of flumpet with strumpet)

3: a musical instrument combining a flugelhorn and a trumpet (a portmanteau of the words flugelhorn and trumpet, which share the letter U in their spelling: FL – U – MPET)

The three panelists on the other team were each given a card; one card had a definition for flumpet from some reputable source, and the other two said BLUFF. These panelists were given some time, during a musical interlude, to make up plausible definitions. Then the first panel had to decide which definition was the right one.

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grill(e)

July 11, 2018

Two items from early in June. First, the Zippy strip from June 2nd, a hymn to the 1957 Nash Metropolitan (a genuinely cute car, unlike current models, with their angry grilles):

(#1)

Then, following a brief June 1st Facebook posting by grizzled copyeditor John McIntyre (of the Baltimore Sun) —

Yesterday: “pallet” for “palette.” Today: “palate” for “palette.”

— this complaint from UK copyeditor LS:

I’ve done a series of seven novels for an author [AZ: call him Auth] who can’t keep the differen[ce] between grille and grill in his head. And he uses it several times per story. And yes, I’ve told him – and it’s in every single word list I send him. I guess we all have a blind spot. Or maybe he’s doing it on purpose now, to wind me up!

LS’s report is characteristic of everyday reports about the way others use language: people describe usage in vague, abstract generalizations (“Sandy gets words mixed up”); they’re inclined to treat usages via their import for them (“Sandy insulted me”); and they are inclined to talk about what others can’t do rather than what they actually do (“Sandy can’t pronounce r”) . From such reports, we can’t tell what Sandy says, in what circumstances. We don’t know what Auth writes in what circumstances, beyond that it has something to do with the spellings grill and grille. John McIntyre’s report, in contrast, is quite clear; we might go on to investigate why one of his authors wrote pallet where palette would be standard, and another wrote palate where palette would be standard, but at least we have some facts to go on.

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An old mishearing

June 17, 2018

For almost 33 years now, I’ve been mishearing the lyrics to the theme song “Thank You For Being a Friend” for the American sitcom The Golden Girls (which debuted in September 1985 and continued through 1992). Just one line:

And the card attached would say

which I hear, every time (including just now, as I watch re-runs of the show), as

And the heart attack would say

The phonological relationships are close, but of course heart attack makes no sense at all in the context. Yet the illusion perseveres. Even when I know it’s about to come up again, I have to struggle not to hear heart attack.

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A classic word confusion

June 12, 2018

On the 9th, from reader Timothy Young, this screen shot from the Los Angeles Times:


(#1) The original, with the verb enervated

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A chiastic bird

June 1, 2018

It’s been a while since I posted chiastic (transpositional, Spooneristic) wordplay, so here’s a Bizarro from 12/16/08:

  (#1)

The title To Kill a Mockingbird  –> To Mock a Killingbird by transposition (exchange, reversal), of kill and mock (the sort of exchange seen in Spoonerisms as inadvertent errors). Formally  of interest because the process “goes into” a compound word, to affect one of its parts (mocking), and also into an affixed word, to affect its base (mock). On the conceptual side, this particular kind of wordplay is shallow, thin, since only one of the two paired situations is represented in the cartoon: having served its purpose as base for transposition, the book To Kill a Mockingbird plays no further role in the proceedings.

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A delicious Jew

May 31, 2018

A delicious Jew that would improve your dog’s joint health through glucosamine. Well, that’s what I heard, and it certainly made me sit up and take notice. So much so that I didn’t catch the name of the product being advertised on tv. There are a lot of possibilities; it might have been this one:

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