Discussions about eggcorns and related topics
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Chris -- 2015-05-30
“a clever web-meets-TV idea where three members of your commoner gardener public get to rough shoulders with a similar number of genuine poker pros”
Two eggcorns in one sentence!
Adrian: I really liked “commoner gardener” so looked for further confirmation from Google and to my disappointment found this on the ‘Letters’ page of Guardian Unlimited:
Common or garden (Letters, October 18) is of course a corruption of commoner-gardener – a now obsolete status once accorded in some Oxford (and perhaps Cambridge) colleges to a poor student who supported his studies by working in the college garden. It is possible that a distorted echo of this found its way into Matthew Arnold’s Scholar Gypsy.
Perhaps James Burns is wrong but I suppose the expression must have some origin and it does seem fairly compelling. It’s still an interesting find as your example of ‘commoner gardener’ was an eggcornish variant of what must be a ‘sleeper’ eggcorn (common or garden) of ‘commoner gardener’. (I wish that last sentence made more sense).
Not only are there two eggcorns in that first sentence, one of them is probably a double-banger. I also love that an apparent folk etymology has managed to seduce its slinky little way into this forum, albeit with considerable sobriety and circumspection on Peter’s part. Growing up, I always heard the expression as “common garden”. Later I started to run into “common or garden”. It seems reasonable to suppose that “common or garden” arose from the habit, demonstrated profusely in seed catalogues and other lists of cultivated plants from the early 19th c., of referring to standard garden plants as, for example, “common, or garden lettuce”. See , with common or garden lettuce, thyme, centaury, lavender, pea and nightshade. “Common garden” would be from the same source. Then it’s a small jump to “commoner garden” followed by the ever-so-tiny perseverant “commoner gardener” and suddenly we’re faced with a phrase of a whole different snootiness quotient. Here are some more hits; see especially number 3.
Glossary: FIL, father in law, and MIL mother in law, are fairly common acronyms on gossip boards.
it was not a smart-phone, just a commoner garden one.
No I swear to God. I thought “commoner gardener” meant like “even the gardener would use it”... That’s the truth. It never occurred to me it might be something else. I’ll concede defeat on that one
First perp account, ireland
I do find it difficult to grasp as to why God made us with longings for marriage, children (I.E. commoner gardener ‘human’ feelings) that do not meet the manner in which God wishes us to live our lives for him.
Might the use of “common, or garden lettuce” instead of “common garden” been to avoid confusion with “Common Garden”, in the sense of public or shared? The Common Gardens arose as an institution in the 18th c., it says in my notes, though I don’t know where I picked that up. Here’s an ambiguous hit from what I suppose was the cusp, in 1789:
if, from this poem he attends only to some of the common flowers of a common garden, his views of nature will be greatly extended, many cheerless moments will be filled with the most rational entertainment, and what at first began in amusement, may terminate in scientific acquisition. Our author is no common guide in this respect and his notes contain a more judicious selection, and a better connected view of the arguments in favour of the sexual system, than any one work that we have yet seen. The oeconomy of vegetation, and the physiology of plants, form the first volume ; but this didactic poem is deferred till another year, to afford time for the repetition of some experiments.
Sorry I let that one run on a bit. I was fascinated by the use of the term oeconomy of vegetation so early in the development of our current scientific view of nature.
Last edited by David Bird (2015-09-22 10:30:58)
I had always heard “garden variety” with or without “common”, and understood it to mean “ordinary, of the sort you might find growing in anyone’s garden.” I never thought of commoners or gardeners, smooth shouldered or not. Interesting …
*If the human mind were simple enough for us to understand,
we would be too simple-minded to understand it* .
Garden variety is lots clearer. Here are some first circle blends of the above.
I had always heard “garden variety” with or without “common”, and understood it to mean “ordinary, of the sort you might find growing in anyone’s garden.” I never thought of commoners or gardeners, smooth shouldered or not…
My experience was exactly the same as DavidTuggy’s. Never heard of “common or garden”; always heard/used “garden variety”. I don’t know if David lived in Mexico his entire life, but I’ve lived mostly in Michigan and California, and I’m thinking that these are regional differences in phrasing (UK/Canada vs.USA?)