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#1 2008-05-20 13:50:38

Peter Forster
Eggcornista
From: UK
Registered: 2006-09-06
Posts: 1018

'pits' for 'pitch'

“Black as pitch’, ‘pitch dark’ and ‘pitch black’ refer to ‘pitch’, a tarry substance, which I suppose many people may never have seen or heard of. We’ve discussed before how what may have been a common and widely understood simile can, within a generation, cease to carry its initial imagery but continue in general use: I think this may be another example and one with eggcornish pretensions. I can find only a couple of examples and I acknowledge the third could be dubious…

... we were lucky that it was pits black so he could not see us, besides he didn’t know if he would get attacked in the dark, so he left. ...
www.sitestory.dk/sven_nielsen/ sven_nielsen_biography.doc


And I’m driving a stolen car through a pits black night. I keep telling myself everything is gona be allright. But I ride by night and I travel in fear no …
www.loose-ends.it/stolencar.html – 7k – Cached


Rooftops black as pits. Lights appear, then die as cleaners move from floor to floor, office to office. Lights reflected in facing windows – but from my …
contemporaryhaibunonline.com/ pages12/Allen_McGill_1.html – 5k – Cached

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#2 2008-05-21 01:44:03

kem
Eggcornista
From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2616

Re: 'pits' for 'pitch'

The imagery switch is compelling. A good eggcorn. I’m surprised that it is so rare.

Try googling “pitched dark” and “pitched black.” Hundreds of hits. This supports your surmise that knowledge of pitch (=tar) is not widespread.

I’m not sure that “pitched dark” is anything more than a malapropism-it’s hard to imagine what imagery might have led to the slip. The speakers might have been thinking about being pitched (=thrown) into a dark place, I suppose.

Last edited by kem (2008-05-21 01:46:16)


Hatching new language, one eggcorn at a time.

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#3 2008-05-21 10:24:17

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

Re: 'pits' for 'pitch'

Very clever Peter. When I posted “pitched dark” before, it never occurred to me to consider “pits.”

Kem wrote:

I’m not sure that “pitched dark” is anything more than a malapropism-it’s hard to imagine what imagery might have led to the slip. The speakers might have been thinking about being pitched (=thrown) into a dark place, I suppose.

You might be right, Kem. I wrote about that one before, so perhaps you might look it up and see whether I made a convincing enough argument for the imagery I presented. You’re welcome to tag your comments onto that thread as well.

Last edited by jorkel (2008-05-21 10:29:48)

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#4 2008-05-21 11:33:28

kem
Eggcornista
From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2616

Re: 'pits' for 'pitch'

I searched and found your earlier post, jorkel. It is at http://eggcorns.lascribe.net/forum/view … hp?id=1314

I hadn’t thought about “pitching a tent over” as a source of the “pitched black” imagery. It’s possible. But I don’t find either of our guesses at the “pitched” imagery very convincing. We tend to assume that speakers, when faced with an opaque term, reach for the nearest sound in their vocabulary with an appropriate semantics. But often they just grab the closest word and park the semantics. The urge to satisfy the demands of the ear are more imperative, by orders of magnitude, than the whispered needs of the mind.

Last edited by kem (2008-05-21 11:34:23)


Hatching new language, one eggcorn at a time.

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#5 2008-05-21 12:20:59

JonW719
Eggcornista
From: Colorado
Registered: 2007-09-05
Posts: 285

Re: 'pits' for 'pitch'

The urge to satisfy the demands of the ear are more imperative, by orders of magnitude, than the whispered needs of the mind.

Great aphorism/truism, kem.


Feeling quite combobulated.

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#6 2008-05-21 13:38:52

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

Re: 'pits' for 'pitch'

I agree with Jon about Kem’s comment. Maybe we should start a little collection of “great quotes on eggcornology.”

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#7 2008-06-14 22:47:10

DavidTuggy
Eggcornista
From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-11
Posts: 2157
Website

Re: 'pits' for 'pitch'

A friend of mine once described a place as “pitch quiet”. Which, when you think about it, works. (Better than “white as coal”, anyway, which another friend said.)

Shifting gears, or changing the pitch of the propeller… just last week an aunt of mine, who is very musical, spoke of mis-hearing the tone of a pitch fork she had struck. (Blend of tuning fork with pitch pipe, I am sure.)


*If the human mind were simple enough for us to understand,
we would be too simple-minded to understand it* .

(Possible Corollary: it is, and we are .)

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#8 2008-06-16 15:11:08

TootsNYC
Eggcornista
Registered: 2007-06-19
Posts: 263

Re: 'pits' for 'pitch'

“pitched” may have an aura of “extreme” about it—from a sinking ship’s “pitched” deck, to “pitching a fit.”

Not that these LITERALLY mean anything helpful, but in both cases, you are talking about an extreme situation, and that “tone” may cling to the word “pitched.”

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#9 2008-06-17 04:40:25

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

Re: 'pits' for 'pitch'

I think TootsNYC’s analysis may be right on the money. I’ve heard “pitch white” used jokingly, but the following instance seems to be authentic:

Hope you know what I mean, just try moving the cursor around an object rapidly and see how the object remains while you move the curstor, since the backround is pitch white you’ll be able to discern, is it still pitch white around the object when moving it?
http://www.gamespot.com/pages/forums/sh … d=26100711
[two instances of “pitch white,” with “curstor” and “backround” as potential bonus reshapings, though the latter may be a typo]

A bit of quick googling only turned up a couple other potential citations.

Last edited by patschwieterman (2008-06-17 04:40:44)

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#10 2008-06-17 09:00:28

DavidTuggy
Eggcornista
From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-11
Posts: 2157
Website

Re: 'pits' for 'pitch'

“backround” is nice, and extremely common (3.9M ghits/521M for “background”).

Sort of sounds like somebody with big buns.

You hear it pronounced a lot, too, so it’s not just a typographical omission. For me it’s a kind of anti-eggcorn: the new analysis/etymology is more obscure than the standard one. It’s probably phonologically driven: kgr > kr.

Last edited by DavidTuggy (2008-06-17 09:21:25)


*If the human mind were simple enough for us to understand,
we would be too simple-minded to understand it* .

(Possible Corollary: it is, and we are .)

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#11 2008-06-17 09:13:23

DavidTuggy
Eggcornista
From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-11
Posts: 2157
Website

Re: 'pits' for 'pitch'

TootsNYC wrote:

…“pitched” may have an aura of “extreme” about it…

and patschwieterman wrote:

I think TootsNYC’s analysis may be right on the money. I’ve heard “pitch white” used …:
“since the backround is pitch white you’ll be able to discern, is it still pitch white around the object when moving it?”

This substitution of an extreme term for its opposite seems to be a rather common semantic development: witness other oddities like “diametrically in favor of”, or “all but” meaning “anything but”, or even the overuse of words like “terrifically”, “awfully”, etc. to the point where they don’t mean anything more than ‘very’, and often ‘very good’ rather than ‘very bad’. Not to mention, of course, “bad” or “baaad” meaning ‘admirable, good’.

One of the best bloopers I’ve caught myself in was, describing a situation where I was very surprised, “you could have knocked me over with a ten-foot pole”. The semantic connection between the unmentioned feather (or the finger you could have pushed me over with) and the mentioned ten-foot pole is that they are opposite extremes for directness of contact + amount of force applied.


*If the human mind were simple enough for us to understand,
we would be too simple-minded to understand it* .

(Possible Corollary: it is, and we are .)

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