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#1 2005-10-28 02:58:12

patschwieterman
Administrator
From: California
Registered: 2005-10-25
Posts: 1665

"viscous circle" for "vicious circle"

This is such low-hanging food that I suspect someone somewhere has already discussed it from an eggcornological perspective. “Vicious circle” was originally a technical term in the field of Logic. The reshaping calls up over 12,000 ghits. Common even in quite learned settings, and it should probably be considered virtually mainstream.

It’s bad enough when you’re caught in an endless loop—but you go nowhere even more slowly when the loop is sticky. Examples:

This paper considers whether the multiple centers of meaning in Petrushevskaia’s postmodern “Passion” constitutes a “great leap” of faith or a viscous circle of meaninglessness.
http://www.columbia.edu/cu/slavic/art_tech/adams.htm

The low pay is related to the stereotype, and the small number of library schools is related to the small number of people entering the field. It has become a viscous circle.
http://lawlibrary.ucdavis.edu/LAWLIB/march02/0315.html

A viscous circle is started, in which RECOREX is combined with increasingly severe surfactant inactivation that augments the shear forces related to tidal recruitment.
http://66.102.7.104/search?q=cache:dNQB … e%22&hl=en

(By the way: 30-odd ghits for “low-hanging food” and 400,000-some for “low-hanging fruit.”)

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#2 2005-11-22 20:10:50

Ben Zimmer
Member
Registered: 2005-10-15
Posts: 15
Website

Re: "viscous circle" for "vicious circle"

Paul Brians has talked about this one: <http://www.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/vicious.html>.

I’d call this more of a malapropism, since I can’t imagine much of a semantic justification for using “viscous circle/cycle,” unless, as Brians says, “you are discussing a Harley-Davidson in dire need of an oil change.”

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