Discussions about eggcorns and related topics
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Chris -- 2011-03-08
I’ve seen what in my mind have been some excellent eggcorns listed here at the forum, which never made it into the database. Is this for lack of time or volunteers, or is someone deciding that the submissions “don’t pass mustard”?
I wish I knew the answer as I too am puzzled; puzzled that jorkel, for example, with 789 posts, has had none of his putative eggcorns legitimised by entry to the database. I sometimes think, though I’m sure I must be wrong, that our illustrious gatekeepers never even look in the forum.
To be more positive, the near-eggcorns and other linguistic quirks which frequently appear in the forum are every bit as interesting as a classical eggcorn – eggcornicity isn’t everything!
Uh-oh, that would be my fault.
I don’t particularly enjoy being seen as a nasty and haughty gatekeeper, but I do see how it would appear like that. The thing is, while there are three main posters with full access to the main database (Arnold Zwicky and Ben Zimmer in addition to myself), this site and this forum were 100% created and put up by me alone. I derive no income for it and pay for the hosting. And I’ve been chronically overworked in my day job for a while now. Arnold and Ben are not any less busy than myself, and handle submissions from many other sources—correspondence via email, including from journalists, learned societies (ADS-L), Language Log etc etc.
So instead of standing at the gate turning my nose up at each new contribution, I am struggling to keep up with all the eggcorn-related projects. There is a fair bit to do on the backend, still. We still have no comments on the main articles back, and that’s a shame, and I am currently studying moving to a totally different platform/framework. Moreover, we have between us literally hundreds of “enterable” eggcorns, and an editing job on the existing entries.
But yes, I do read the forums. And I am in admiration what a great job you have done, and I’m thinking of jorkel, Pat, yourself, Ken, and quite a few others, to make this a place of debate and exchange.
As a matter of fact, I have started entering forum contribution guided mostly by which forum posts receive a lot of search engine hits. There happened to be a bunch from Ken Lakritz. On my list are also a number from Joe, to wit: “not one wit”, “kit gloves” [which has been proposed several times], “edgeways”, and “starve off”, provided, the research on them goes right (sometimes things get muddier when you research more).
Peter Forster wrote:
To be more positive, the near-eggcorns and other linguistic quirks which frequently appear in the forum are every bit as interesting as a classical eggcorn – eggcornicity isn’t everything
Yes, and that’s another point: The entire eggcorns classification system is very young and in flux. Where do eggcorns fit into the larger scheme? What are those near-eggcorns? There’s a lot going in eggcorn land, and you all are a part of it. I just hope I’m not straining your patience too much, but I’m doing what I can. Really.
I did not mean to bring you down, I just wanted to understand more about the workings of the database. Believe me, I know all about being overworked – else I would volunteer to lend a hand occasionally!
Ideally I wish all the entries from the forum were cataloged in a database, perhaps they could be rated in some form – but this is just me daydreaming, not an expectation or a request.
Now I feel like a frock-coated character in a silent two-reeler churlishly twirling my waxed moustaches while a hooting trainful of woes threatens to separate our Chris from her head and feet. I’m sorry. But it is rather frustrating that there seems to be nothing we can do to help – is it essential that gatekeepers have to be qualified in linguistics? It may be that among the ranks of forum contributors there are some with the time as well as the expertise to help with the backlog; I reluctantly exclude myself on the grounds of attention deficit and notoriously poor powers of analysis. Could there be some way we could slip small financial contributions towards the support of the site?
Peter, if you’re a frock-coated villain, wouldn’t those be “mustachios”?
But your remarks didn’t seem churlish to me. I’d like to second the idea of using volunteers.
I think the idea of keeping the ultimate access to the Database itself in the hands of a very small and well-defined group is a good one. But we’ve also got an enthusiastic band of seasoned googlers who might be willing to do a lot of the preliminaries for Database entries. Things like checking Google hit numbers, rounding up a dozen representative citations from high-profile sites, corralling standard dictionary definitions, etc., could be parceled out and done in advance so that a gatekeeper could have a headstart on the final writeup. Perhaps even the basic writeup could be done in that manner if volunteers were willing to check their egos at the door and watch patiently as their contributions were heavily edited by Chris/Ben/Arnold.
I suspect a number of people might be willing to become minions doing the necessary grumpwork if they felt it would help to get contributions flowing from the forum to the Database. And given the size of the task, I think involving volunteers may be the only way to get it done.
I work multiple part-time jobs, but I could easily transfer time I already spend on forum posts to, say, spending an hour a week finding more citations for “kit gloves” or others.
Pat, I’m a bit more in Peter’s camp… attention deficit …er, but not mustachioed. As you can probably tell by my posts, I try to provide everything that’s needed up front: Google hits, dictionary definitions, and applicable examples. Then I move on. It does sap my energy a bit to revisit old material since I’ve usually already said everything that I wanted to say. Besides, I think that the finally arbiters really need to be persons with strong academic skills like yourself and the linguists. It helps to validate the eggcorns if the subtleties are definitively judged by those most knowledgable with the language. Also, like Peter, I’d be willing to provide a small financial contribution via a Paypal arrangement or something. This has really been a terrific forum. It basically allows us to take half-baked ideas and make them ..er.. full-baked.
Well, you’re both far too modest. But your offers are terribly kind. Two years ago there was a paypal link on the site for donations, but I think it disappeared after the “remodeling.”