lengths » links

Chiefly in:   car links

Classification: English

Spotted in the wild:

  • “I like to have about 10-15 car links between us and the cars in front of us…” (link)
  • “If they can’t see your license plate from 3 and 1/2 car links behind, they should get glasses.” (link)
  • “At 160 i was about 1 1/2 car links ahead of the Supra.” (link)

Analyzed or reported by:

  • Doug Harris (ADS-L posting of 7 April 2009)

The raising of [Ɛ] before nasals probably plays a role in this one.

| Comments Off link | entered by Arnold Zwicky, 2009/04/07 |

front and center » front in center

Classification: English – and «» in/en

Spotted in the wild:

  • “Women’s rights in Afghanistan are (finally) front in center in light of the country’s new “rape” law.” (link)
  • “Wise moving to front in center” (link)
  • “Gay marriage front in center before Calif. high court” (link)

Analyzed or reported by:

  • Victor Steinbok (e-mail of 6 April 2009)

Another case of exchange between different unaccented nasal syllables.

| Comments Off link | entered by Arnold Zwicky, 2009/04/07 |

mismatched » mixmatch

Classification: English

Spotted in the wild:

  • Diana was best known for her very funny laughter and her cute witty bandanas and not to mention her sometimes mixmatch clothing. (link)
  • HE BRINGS THE WEIRDNESS TO THE GROUP WITH HIS STYLE OF VOICE AND HIS LOUD COLORS AND MIXMATCH SHOES LOL! (link)

Analyzed or reported by:

  • Margaret Lee (ADS-L, 10 March 2009)

A cousin to the mixmash eggcorn. Mix ‘n match no doubt contributes to the mix.

Margaret Lee’s original report:

At a recent Phish concert here in Hampton, a Phish fan “Phish head”) (female) was quoted in the local newspaper as saying, “It’s comforting to know that I’m not the only one that wears mixmatch clothing and is into other things besides cell phones and bling-bling.” Is this use of “mixmatch” for “mismatch” an eggcorn? I don’t know if this was her pronunciation or the reporter’s spelling of the word.

[Addendum: Ben Zimmer reports a discussion by Nancy Friedman of mixedmaxed as a possible eggcorn for mismatched.]

| Comments Off link | entered by Arnold Zwicky, 2009/03/10 |

chifforobe » Shiffer robe

Classification: English – proper names

Spotted in the wild:

  • Inside the house, the only thing that remains is his mother’s dresser. He secures it to the floor with wrapping cord and leaves a note in each drawer that says, “this shiffer-robe belongs to Hazel Motes. Do not steal it or you will be hunted down and killed.” (link)
  • 1/23/2004 Here’s a panoramic picture of the baby’s room almost finished. I just have to get the door back on the Shiffer Robe. (link)
  • I am getting a dresser and a shiffer robe too and those are $400 each and the crib I like is $300 and it converts. (link)

Analyzed or reported by:

  • Arnold Zwicky (link)
  • Arnold Zwicky (link)

The two reports cited above are from the American Dialect Society mailing list. An edited version of the second:

I posted in 2000 about an experience I had when I was still driving back and forth across the country at least once a year, and looked in on antique shops in New Mexico, Arizona, and the California desert. Where objects labeled as S(c)ha(e)f(f)er Robes - there were many variant spellings - were on offer. Eventually, when I came across the variants S(c)hiffer Robe, the penny dropped and I realized that these things were chifforobes (”chifforobe” = “chiffonier” + “wardrobe”, itself an interesting formation).

In any case, since so very many things are named after people or places, this sort of reshaping is to be expected.

(The first occurrence is from a summary of Flannery O’Connor’s Wise Blood.)

The OED entry for chifforobe lists the following variant spellings: chiffarobe, chifferobe, chiffing robe, chifforobe, chiffrobe, chifrobe, shifferobe.

| Comments Off link | entered by Arnold Zwicky, 2009/02/28 |

mishmash » mixmash

Variant(s):  mix-mash, mix(-)mosh

Classification: English

Spotted in the wild:

  • At first, students and teachers may miss the units and projects, long source themes, outlines, How-to books, word games, and all the empurpled mix-mash we have fallen heir to. (Floyd Rinker, "Priorities in the English Curriculum," English Journal Vol. 51, No. 5 (May 1962), p. 312)
  • ‘Photography in the Fine Arts’ was a distressing mixmash. (Ansel Adams, Oct. 14, 1962 letter, Ansel Adams: Letters, 1916-1984 (2001), p. 295)
  • I’ll let you deal with figuring the convention out as I use a number of custom widgets subclassed from ’stock’ Gtk and so you’ll see a mixmash of classic Gtk and your skin. (Postfish README file, Xiph.Org, 2005)
  • You will see a mixmash of different styles and layouts, some good, some bad, but thumbing through so many varied examples should give you plenty of ideas for possible designs and layouts for your own poster. (Kalev H. Leetaru, "A Speaker's Guide to Painless and Successful Public Speaking," Mar. 24, 2008, p. 24)
  • Oh sorry, it is all in English. I don’t divide the two languages sometimes. In our house it is a mixmash of English and German! (Netty, Language Log comment, Jan. 26, 2009)
  • “It was a mixmosh of people — it wasn’t just black and white — and everybody’s got their cultures. Everybody’s got their music and their religion, and you just throw that into the pot and stir it up,” Salgado continues. “That’s why the blues is what it is: because America was a hybrid melting pot of all these cultures.” (Bay Weekly, May 16-22, 2002)
  • A mixmosh of various types of audio created using recording programs. (Crunkcore Records)

Analyzed or reported by:

  • Arnold Zwicky (ADS-L, Jan. 26, 2009)

Mixmash takes the reduplicative first syllable of mishmash and transforms it into the semantically transparent mix. In fact, the linkage between mix and mash goes back etymologically all the way to the Indo-European root *meik-. The reduplication of mash into mishmash has also been paralleled by forms with mix, such as the variants mixty-maxty, mixter-maxter, and mixie-maxie from Scotland/N. England.

More recently, mixing and mashing have become allied concepts in the world of musical production (mix-master, mash-up, etc.). So it’s not surprising that mixmash often appears as an intentional lexical mash-up in contexts relating to music and technology, e.g. Mix Mash Records or MixMash VJ services. Such intentional uses may lead to an acceptance of mixmash as a variant of mishmash in relevant fields — as in the 2005 example above, from the README file for Postfish (”a digital audio post-processing, restoration, filtering and mixdown tool”).

Meanwhile, the variant mix(-)mosh suggests two additional contributing factors: the Yiddish-influenced pronunciation of mishmash as [mɪʃmɑʃ] (often spelled mishmosh) rather than [mɪʃmæʃ], and the newer sense of mosh to describe slam-dancing (mosh pit, etc.).

| comment | link | entered by Ben Zimmer, 2009/01/26 |