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Chris -- 2015-05-30

#1 2007-08-30 02:43:14

From: Northumberland, UK
Registered: 2007-08-30
Posts: 2

mega for Mecca

Heard on Tuesday in Hexham, Northumberland:

“Oooh, Hexham on a Tuesday – it’s a thieves’ mega.”

The speaker was an elderly woman from a rural market town in the north of England, so I doubt Mecca has ever had much of a chance to figure in her life, but this really struck me as a deeply odd turn of phrase. Also, as a Language Log addict, I immediately thought, “EGGCORN!”

This incident also brought up a related (but non-eggcornical) issue of style: when using this sort of phrase, how should Mecca be capitalised: “It’s a thieves’ Mecca” or “It’s a thieves’ mecca”? Obviously, you’re not referring to Mecca; you’re merely drawing a comparison, so it doesn’t feel right to me to capitalise the word.

And that’s without opening up a whole can of worms regarding Mecca/Meccah/Makkah.



#2 2007-08-30 03:39:52

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

Re: mega for Mecca

Welcome to the forum, OwainB. It’s possible this is eggcornish. But there’d have to be some indication that the usual sense of “mega-” had a role here. I couldn’t find any other clear examples online.

The capitalization question is an interesting one, and I wonder whether it’s even possible to get a definitive answer. I first checked the OED—they had 9 entries between 1843 and 1993 for figurative uses of “Mecca”; only two of those cites used the lowercase spelling. Then I tried googling “tourist Mecca.” The results were split—“tourist mecca” was clearly ahead, but “tourist Mecca” seemed to have about 30-40% when the phrase was actually used in a sentence (as opposed to a headline, etc.). Then I went to to see what forms editors of books were letting get into print. I predicted to myself that “tourist Mecca” would be more popular among professional editors than among the general public, but I was wrong—“tourist Mecca” was running a bit less than 20% in books published between 1980 and 2006. So from what I can tell, “tourist mecca” appears to be the choice of the pros right now.

Maybe our resident professional editor—TootsNYC—will weigh in on this.



#3 2007-08-30 14:10:03

From: Northumberland, UK
Registered: 2007-08-30
Posts: 2

Re: mega for Mecca

Thanks for the welcome.

I’d kind of imagined an implied ending to the phrase – at least in the mind of the person using it:

“It’s a thieves’ mega-(opportunity)”
“It’s a thieves’ mega-(mall)”
“It’s a thieves’ mega-(centre)”
or something along those lines.

She could also have confused it with the use of the word “Mega!”, as a stand-alone adjective or interjection (like “Cool!” or “Super!”), which was reasonably popular among Britain’s kids maybe 20 years ago. Indeed, I remember using “Mega” in that sense in the late 80s.

I can’t find any web examples either.

Thanks for the figures on the capitalisation issue. I’m always interested in little quirks of style like that.

Edit: Sorry. I forgot to finish making any sort of point about “mega” as a stand-alone word. My baby puked all over himself, and by the time I got back to finish off the post, I kind of lost track of what I was writing.

So, to finish off on “mega”, I was kind of imagining that she (the person who uttered this phrase) had at some point heard something like:

“It’s a mecca for birdwatchers.”
“It’s a ‘Mega’ for birdwatchers.”
i.e. It’s a place that makes birdwatchers think, “Mega!”

It’s a bit of a stretch, I know, but I’m basically trying to recreate someone else’s thought processes. Quite frankly, I have enough trouble with my own!

Last edited by OwainB (2007-08-30 15:38:53)



#4 2014-01-09 22:04:49

David Bird
From: Montréal, QC
Registered: 2009-07-28
Posts: 1534

Re: mega for Mecca

I think this one is great. I found about a dozen hits without any unpleasant bending.

I’m sure you can find plenty of info on Chiang Mai because it’s a Mega for expat and travelers. … 5394605201

There was Mc Donald’s, Burger King, Hard rock Cafe, Pizza Hut… Simply said it’s a mega for TOURISTS
Yahoo questions

“Sadly, This local find has become a tourist mega.”
Trip Advisor

You get to see the darker, seedier side of a tourist mega, set in the post-outbreak world.
book review



#5 2014-01-09 23:31:18

From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2575

Re: mega for Mecca

An Aunty Lehmann. Though they would have had to look into a time window to have known this in 2007.

Hatching new language, one eggcorn at a time.



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