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#1 2008-03-16 02:10:20

jeroboambramblejam
Member
Registered: 2008-03-16
Posts: 2

'Shared meaning element' eggcorn candidate?...

“Fecal position” v. “Fetal position”
When I heard this spoken, I thought it might be a play on words, but the speaker was seriously referring to the position assumed by stooping and wrapping your arms around your knees… which could make sense because of the position assumed when a proper sit-down, western-style toilet is not available.
Google Image Search depicts that vertical, stooped position, and two others; lying curled up and on one side (classic fetal position), and leaning forward with legs tucked and knees and elbows on the floor. I didn’t have the opportunity to ask if the speaker distinguished between the stooping and classic modes, but I would guess she wouldn’t, because the subject was not defecation, but simply the stooping position. My inference is that she didn’t know the meanings of the arguably technical terms ‘fecal’, and ‘fetal’, and simply misheard or mislearned the term.

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#2 2008-03-16 20:35:00

jorkel
Eggcornista
Registered: 2006-08-08
Posts: 1455

Re: 'Shared meaning element' eggcorn candidate?...

Welcome to the eggcorn website.

Your example would qualify as an eggcorn only if the speaker knew what “fecal” means …which would allow her to construct a mental image for the modified expression “fecal position”—perhaps something like “a position which facilitates defecation.” When speakers do not understand their wrongly chosen words, then their utterances are more likely to be nothing more than malapropisms rather than eggcorns.

Last edited by jorkel (2008-03-16 20:35:48)

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#3 2008-03-16 23:43:55

jeroboambramblejam
Member
Registered: 2008-03-16
Posts: 2

Re: 'Shared meaning element' eggcorn candidate?...

Thank you, jorkel, for that very helpful clarification; You must have fallen not far from the eggcorn tree~
Speaking of witch, a particularly notorious malapropositioner is neocon radio talk host Janet Parshal (of what I call “Janet’s Partial America”); Her unspeakable ravaging of The King’s English is almost enough to make the program listenable~
Best wishes~

”...And from the tiny mustard seed
a mighty oak shall grow.” ~jeroboambramblejam

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#4 2013-09-03 10:04:03

Dixon Wragg
Eggcornista
From: Santa Rosa, California
Registered: 2008-07-04
Posts: 635

Re: 'Shared meaning element' eggcorn candidate?...

jorkel wrote:

Your example would qualify as an eggcorn only if the speaker knew what “fecal” means …which would allow her to construct a mental image for the modified expression “fecal position”—perhaps something like “a position which facilitates defecation.” When speakers do not understand their wrongly chosen words, then their utterances are more likely to be nothing more than malapropisms rather than eggcorns.

Righto! I did a Google search on “fecal position” and found around 40 examples that looked like they weren’t meant as jokes. Whether they were eggcorns or mere malapropisms is unknowable in most cases, BUT here’s at least one example of a clear eggcornish meaning-connection:

one of my co-workers just screwed up an account and said he’s going to go home and curl up on the floor in the “fecal position”.
I let it go once, but he said it again so I asked what he was talking about. He said “you know, curled up on the floor in a ball”.
I asked if he meant the fetal position and he gave me a funny look so I told him to google it. He came back and said “my bad, I thought it was “fecal position”, like when you’re laying on the floor just feeling sh&%%y.”

In my googling, I also encountered several examples of people describing the fecal position as being bent over on a toilet, straining to poop. That is not too different from the fetal position when you stop to think about it, so I think it’s very plausible that people would confuse the two meaning-wise as well as sound-wise. Thus I submit that “fecal position”, at least in some cases, is a real eggcorn.

A few more examples from my googling:

She gave me such a dressing down, I ended up sobbing and curled up in the fecal position.

But is there at least enough room to sleep comfortably if I am curled up in the fecal position?

possum curls into fecal position and sez meow

If anyone is still reading that has a problem with my grammar – reread the last paragraph until you curl up on the bathroom floor in a puddle of your own tears in the fecal position.

Saddam, like Gaddafi, was also pulled from a fetid hiding hole and killed by an angry mob. What’s up with mighty bad-guys ending up in some sort of fecal position?

Last edited by Dixon Wragg (2013-09-11 16:54:15)

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#5 2013-09-03 11:49:54

burred
Eggcornista
From: Montreal
Registered: 2008-03-17
Posts: 942

Re: 'Shared meaning element' eggcorn candidate?...

Hilarious, thanks for bringing this poorly titled thread back for appreciation.

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