hurtle » hurdle

Classification: English – /t/-flapping

Spotted in the wild:

  • We’ve got more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere now than at any point since the Pliocene, when there were jungles in northern Canada. And the number hurdles ever upward, as ocean levels rise and extreme weather becomes routine. (Nicholas Thompson, The New Yorker, May 12, 2013)
  • Our sun will eventually burn out and we’ll all hurdle to our intergalactic deaths. … One day you’re hurdling along, taking it all for granted, scratching for any edge you can get on this planet. Then you’re hurdling toward certain oblivion. (Neil Cavuto, Fox News transcript, Mar. 27, 2017)
  • “These things never come here,” gallerist Nina Johnson recalls telling the artist R. M. Fischer last Tuesday, as Hurricane Irma hurdled toward Miami, where he would mount his first show of Lampworks in more than two decades. (Architectural Digest, Sept. 22, 2017)
  • As the state hurdles towards the finish line for their ambitious project to wire the state with high speed broadband, local providers are making progress in connecting northern New York. (Sun Community News, Nov. 14, 2017)
  • Each character on the one-sheet gets their own prism as they hurdle towards Chris Pine’s Dr. Alex Murry. (Entertainment Weekly, Nov. 17, 2017)

Analyzed or reported by:

On Language Log, Mark Liberman writes:

For most Americans, hurtle is pronounced exactly the same way as hurdle. And hurdle, in addition to being commoner than hurtle (about 7.69 per million for the “hurdle” and “hurdles” in COCA, compared to 0.60 for “hurtle” and “hurtles”), has the advantage of referring to a concrete type of object and a specific associated action.

This creates the perfect situation for eggcorn creation: a relatively rare and somewhat archaic word that is pronounced in just the same way as another word that is much more common in everyday usage, and has a clear meaning that overlaps at least metaphorically with most examples of the more unusual word.

If you hurtle through or towards something, you don’t necessarily hurdle any obstacles — but if there were any obstacles in your way, you probably would hurdle them. And the idea of moving quickly without regard for obstacles is not a bad proxy for the usual uses of hurtle.

Commenting on Facebook about another example, Bert Vaux observes that “this is one of those cases like hearty/hardy where the deneutralization in favor of the voiced option yields a not entirely implausible interpretation.”

| Comments Off link | entered by Ben Zimmer, 2017/11/29 |

ad » at

Chiefly in:   at hominem , at infinitum , at nauseam

Classification: English – cross-language – /t/-flapping

Spotted in the wild:

  • You’re trying to compare to things that are not similar, and then when criticized for it you rely on at hominem retorts. (Hollywood Reporter comment, July 22, 2014)
  • How many times are you going to argue at hominem? (Malta Today comment, Sept. 4, 2016)
  • Rosemary Owens told the ABC that the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) is starting to identify “unscrupulous employers” who use unpaid trials “at infinitum in relation to a whole range of people”. (HC Online, Oct. 2, 2015)
  • As can be seen in previous images, the square indicating the focus center when focusing a minimum distance is much closer to the center at infinitum in the 1.4 than it is in 2.0. (Digital Photography Review forum, July 5, 2016)
  • This incident (was) discussed at nauseam 20 years ago when it happened. (Doug Gottlieb Show, CBS Sports Radio, Feb. 22, 2016)
  • All throughout the preseason, we in the media talked at nauseam about the Dodgers lack of a true leadoff hitter. (SoCal Sports, NBC Los Angeles, Apr. 4, 2016)

Analyzed or reported by:

  • Leon Bambrick (Twitter, Sept. 30, 2016)

Compare ad » and, which results in and hominem, and infinitum, and and nauseam. The Latin preposition ad, meaning “to,” is a cognate of English at, both derived from the Proto-Indo-European root *ad-.

| Comments Off link | entered by Ben Zimmer, 2016/10/01 |

said » set

Chiefly in:   when/after all is set and done

Classification: English – /t/-flapping – idiom-related

Spotted in the wild:

  • As much as a foot of snow is possible after all is set and done. (The Denver Channel, Apr. 14, 2009)
  • When all was set and done, the missed shot didn’t mean anything but the impact from the opposing crowd was felt throughout every inch of Crisler Arena. (The Michigan Daily, Feb. 11, 2010)
  • There is no deal in place but when all is set and done, something expected to happen after the Academy Awards, Sorkin’s project is on track to get a pilot order by HBO. (Deadline Hollywood, Jan. 23, 2011)
  • After all is set and done, iOS 5 seems to work just fine, according to Mills. (TechLeash, Oct. 26, 2011)
  • By the time all is set and done over 2 feet is possible for the hardest hit areas. (News 4 Tucson, Dec. 13, 2011)
  • After all was set and done in Newark, NJ on Thursday night at the 2012 NBA Draft, most of the headlines left happy with their new hat, new boss and most of all, a soon-to-be-epic bank account. (SB Nation Atlanta, June 30, 2012)

Analyzed or reported by:

| Comments Off link | entered by Ben Zimmer, 2012/07/02 |

hardy » hearty

Chiefly in:   foolhearty

Variant(s):  fool hearty

Classification: English – /t/-flapping

Spotted in the wild:

  • It is dangerous and foolhearty to believe that we will preserve these values for ourselves without also promoting them actively and honestly abroad. (American University commencement address, May 19, 2002)
  • Temperatures in the 40s with strong winds greated those hearty (or foolhearty?) enough to brave the weather and the terrain for a challenging afternoon in the woods. (Rochester Orienteering Club, Oct. 26, 2002)
  • However, the Dowbrigade is not easily intimidated. Fool hearty would perhaps not be an exaggeration. (Dowbrigrade News, Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School, July 17, 2004)
  • The application of purely technical analysis without consideration to either the possibility of an emerging fundamental, such is an upcoming Fed meeting, or critical earnings report, or, in the case of some produced commodities, labor strife etc., is fool hearty. (Futures Magazine, Dec. 13, 2004)

Analyzed or reported by:

[Edited on 14 Sep. 2005 to include the NOAA bulletin on Hurricane Katrina. Brian Williams of NBC News verified the bulletin and determined that it was written by National Weather Service meteorologist Robert Ricks, a native of New Orleans. With the hurricane bearing down, concern about eggcorns was probably the last thing on his mind.]

See also hearty » hardy.

| Comments Off link | entered by Ben Zimmer, 2005/09/05 |

Cadillac » Catillac

Classification: English – questionable – /t/-flapping

Spotted in the wild:

  • “:rolleyes: now, WHO drives a catillac out of gas on a side road?? :rolleyes: anyhoo ~ i believe they were casing our house. from the road, you couldnt tell …” (link)
  • “Cadillac ‘Pink’ One of the most escentric and outrageous cars within our entire fleet, the famous 1959 Pink Catillac.” (link)
  • “Vincent then heads to boost a Catillac, but unbeknownst to him, … Vincent, speechless, jumps in the Catillac but is immediately stopped by Julius, …” (link)
  • “CUT TO Lowell speeding up and down the street of a gated off community in his pink Catillac, narrowly missing a few kids that are busy playing hop-scotch. …” (link)

A Google web search on “Catillac” yields thousands of examples, most of them irrelevant: Heathcliff and the Catillac Cats (television show of the 80s), other bits of cat-related word play, the Catillac variety of pear, horses named Catillac, people who’ve chosen “catillac” as their username, and so on. Of the remaining examples, some are probably just misspellings, as in the case of the writer (above) who produces both “Cadillac” and “Catillac” in a short description, and also spells “eccentric” as “escentric” (which probably reflects an actual pronunciation). But I suspect that some of the examples arise from an association between Cadillac cars and men who might be referred to either as “cool cats” or as “fat cats”. The t/d confusion stems, of course, from intervocalic flapping in some English dialects.

See also Cadillac converter.

| Comments Off link | entered by Arnold Zwicky, 2005/09/03 |