06 June 2014

"Eggcorn" explained

Last week the Columbia Journalism Review made note of The Eggcorn Database:
Eggcorns are not just misspellings, or things that make no sense, like malapropisms or crash blossoms. They do make sense...

Thus we have eggcorns like “he is at her beckon call,” instead of “beck and call.” The image is of a woman signaling to a man to move closer, “beckoning” him.”..

We also have a “bold-faced lie” instead of the original idiom, a “bald-faced lie.” When you are being particularly “bold” about a lie, or it is printed in “bold” or headline type, the eggcorn makes sense. “Bald-faced” traces to the meaning of “bald” as worthless or paltry; it has its own predecessor in the “bare-faced lie.”...

Eventually, many “eggcorns” may become standard English... One that is close is “hone in on,” which we have been railing against for years as an eggcorn of “home in on. 
More at both links. ("Eggcorn," btw, is an eggcorn for "acorn").

13 comments:

  1. My favorite is "peach n cake" from Trailer Park Boys. That show is absolutely loaded with them.

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  2. All eggcorns look to me like things written by people who have never read the phrases in type before, but only heard them spoken. Somewhat related is the mondegreen, or misheard lyric: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mondegreen

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    Replies
    1. I think you're quite correct. When I was teaching I used to encounter similar errors from students who phonetically spelled terms they had heard only in lecture sessions.

      More on mondegreens here -

      http://tywkiwdbi.blogspot.com/2008/07/introducing-lady-mondegreen.html
      http://tywkiwdbi.blogspot.com/2011/06/giant-saguaro-and-stevie-nicks.html (re "Edge of Seventeen")

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  3. A woman I used to work with would use the phrase "butt-naked" rather than buck-naked... I agree with Anonymous.

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  4. I first learned of mondegreens from your blog, and they have since become part of my household humor. Glad to add eggcorns now as well.

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  5. Have you ever seen "Cheese Caseadia" on Twitter? Some of them are hilarious. Some of the more common ones there include "alter eagle," "minus whale," "self of steam," and my favorite cut of beef, "flaming young."

    https://twitter.com/cheesecasadia

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  6. Is "should of" an eggcorn? It seems to be very common on Facebook. (As in, "I should of seen it coming!")

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    Replies
    1. I certainly hope not. The eggcorn seems to be something only heard and never seen. I can't imagine that anyone with even a fifth grade education would not have seen "should have" written.

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    2. Sadly, I can confirm that some people with degrees from decent colleges write that way: could of, should of, would of rather than could've, should've, would've.

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  7. My father, a minister, once said that he wanted to "clearify" something.He meant "clarify," of course, but I was struck by how this worked so well.

    In another instance, instead of saying that a particular fish was "edible," he said it was "eatable." Again, this has a sense that actually works.

    Now wonder I love my dad so much.

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  8. This article in the NYT seems related to the eggcorns and crash blossoms you've blogged lately. Even if it doesn't fit perfectly in those categories I thought it might be of interest to you.

    "When Spell-Check Can't Help You": http://afterdeadline.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/06/10/when-spell-check-cant-help-23/?partner=rss&emc=rss

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    Replies
    1. lol at the "coup de grace" error. Tx, Keith.

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