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#1 2008-06-26 14:33:52

Brooksie99
Member
From: Ann Arbor, MI
Registered: 2007-10-27
Posts: 27

Helenisms

I ran across this site today when researching the origin of “sharp cookie” vs. “smart cookie”.

A Helenism results when one takes two aphorisms and mixes metaphors to create a new one; I’m an ‘inventerate’ speaker of these myself. Here’s an example:

Big man on the totem pole. Big man on campus. + Low man on the totem pole.

This site lists many more for your amusement:

http://www.stevewhite.org/stuff/Helenisms.html

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#2 2008-06-26 14:39:53

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

Re: Helenisms

Hi Brooksie99:
We’ve talked a little about those before because they’re so easily mistaken for eggcorns. We’ve used the term “idiom blends”—possibly because that’s what the linguists use on the Language Log website. As you dig further on this website, you’ll find references to other word constructions (beyond eggcorns and malapropisms). Perhaps someone will pull those references to the top of the stack some time.

Last edited by jorkel (2008-06-26 14:42:29)

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#3 2008-06-26 14:42:26

Brooksie99
Member
From: Ann Arbor, MI
Registered: 2007-10-27
Posts: 27

Re: Helenisms

Sorry about the redundancy. I searched for “Helenism” before posting, but never thought of “idiom blends” though that’s exactly what they are.

Thanks,

Laura

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#4 2008-06-26 16:55:16

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

Re: Helenisms

where would the term “Helenism” originate?

I know where we get the terms “Spoonerism” and “mondegreen,” but I’ve never heard of a “Helenism.”

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#5 2008-06-27 09:25:59

Brooksie99
Member
From: Ann Arbor, MI
Registered: 2007-10-27
Posts: 27

Re: Helenisms

Just as we use “idiom blends” (sorry, you’d think with all the logophiles here, we’d be a bit more inventive); Steve White came up with “Helenism” after his wife Helen who apparently mixes her metaphors a lot.

http://bdb.co.za/shackle/articles/helenism.htm

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#6 2008-06-27 10:18:36

klakritz
Eggcornista
From: Winchester Massachusetts
Registered: 2005-10-25
Posts: 674

Re: Helenisms

A few writers use ‘missed metaphor’ where ‘mixed metaphor’ is intended, and it’s probably an eggcorn.. E.g.,

Wow, what a missed metaphor pile-up in that sentence. Power Strip? “Cranky-pants-iness?”
www.headlineupdate.com/2006/07/walmart_is_smar.html

Other than an occasional missed metaphor or a train wreck of a simile, the ride is always smooth and quick.
markjustice.blogspot.com/2006/11/harlan-coben.html

As difficult as the missed metaphor and filming techniques make Barbecue: A Love Story to watch, there are points that do offer truthful and touching …
apolloguide.com/mov_print.asp?CID=3911&RID=

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#7 2008-06-27 11:23:33

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

Re: Helenisms

Ken, you should start a new thread for “missed metaphors.”
That one is worth discussing, and it would be easier to find as its own subject.

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#8 2008-06-27 12:38:20

DavidTuggy
Eggcornista
From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-11
Posts: 2154
Website

Re: Helenisms

Comments and a question:

“Missed metaphor” is wonderful, and yes, should have its own thread. It’s of the kind that I often wonder whether it wasn’t purposeful, and of course maybe some cases are. But probably some aren’t. E.g. in the first two exx. above the tone is smart-alecky or snarky or something, but less so in the third, so the third is less likely to do it purposefully.

Helenistic “Idiom blends” are the central part of what I’ve been collecting for years; I’m pushing 4k of them, though of course I tend to see them where others might not.

Steve White very graciously allowed me to use his Helenisms (a really excellent bunch) in stuff I’m working on.

Which raises the question: who owns stuff that’s reported here? I suppose it’s not the perpetrators, but does the site in any sense own them, or the ones reporting them, or are they in some sort of public domain? If I want to put “missed metaphors” in the book I’m working on, which may someday actually make some money, do I have to ask Ken (klakritz) for permission? (Which I’m glad to do, and hereby do, Ken.)

(If you’re interested in seeing a bit of what I’m working on, you can check it out here )

fwiw, anything I’ve reported here you all are welcome to use, and you needn’t acknowledge me specifically if that’s inconvenient.

Last edited by DavidTuggy (2008-06-27 12:38:55)


*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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#9 2008-06-27 13:29:00

kem
Eggcornista
From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2601

Re: Helenisms

David –
When I joined the forum last year I posted a few idiom blends from my personal collection They are here: http://eggcorns.lascribe.net/forum/view … hp?id=2038


Hatching new language, one eggcorn at a time.

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#10 2008-06-27 13:45:23

klakritz
Eggcornista
From: Winchester Massachusetts
Registered: 2005-10-25
Posts: 674

Re: Helenisms

David-

Permission granted- no charge!. Perhaps if I were the creator of an eggcorn I’d feel a sense of ownership, but all we do here is observe and annotate other people’s inventions.

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#11 2008-06-27 14:56:03

DavidTuggy
Eggcornista
From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-11
Posts: 2154
Website

Re: Helenisms

Thanks, klakritz. And Kem, those are great! Thanks!


*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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#12 2008-06-27 15:36:35

Craig C Clarke
Eggcornista
Registered: 2005-11-18
Posts: 233
Website

Re: Helenisms

Someday there’ll be an eggcorn of eggcorn. Wonder what it will be?

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#13 2008-06-27 16:44:36

DavidTuggy
Eggcornista
From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-11
Posts: 2154
Website

Re: Helenisms

Wal, if yore from Texas (and especially a UT fan?), maybe Agcorn?


*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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#14 2008-06-28 04:46:17

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

Re: Helenisms

Craig C. Clarke wrote

Someday there’ll be an eggcorn of eggcorn. Wonder what it will be?

That someday is yesterday! Mark Liberman noted “egghorn” in this post from Sept, 2004: http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/language … 01430.html

Most of the over 2000 raw hits today refer to the mountain, and the rest are probably puns. But a few may be authentic.

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#15 2008-06-28 14:31:35

rogerthat
Eggcornista
From: Denver, Colorado, USA
Registered: 2008-05-19
Posts: 64

Re: Helenisms

Thanks Craig, Dave and Pat. ‘Egghorn’ for ‘eggcorn’ strikes me also as having the curiously recursive hyper-quality of a meta-eggcorn. I found a number of legitimate uses or ‘egghorn’: the surname (including the cartoon character Foghorn ‘Egghorn’?) and jargon to describe horse saddle knobs, a chick’s beak sticking out of an egg, and so on. Besides two early posts in this forum, I also found a number of unintentional slips among 171 ghits:

Sep 8, 2004 … I discovered another egghorn – keyholed for keel-hauled.
itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/ languagelog/archives/001430.html

|
looks as if it’s an ancient egghorn: From the online etymology dictionary…
wordcraft.infopop.cc/eve/ forums/a/tpc/f/932607094/m/8161004994

|
Or at least an egghorn. The standard Spanish version, “en flagrante delito”, is common enough to make it into my Oxford Spanish Dictionary, and gets 859 000 Google hits.
sci.tech-archive.net/Archive/ sci.lang/2006-10/msg01563.html

|
lanthorn… Not a misspelling but “Alteration (influenced by horn, of which the sides were
once made) of lantern”... Undoubtedly an egghorn.
newsgroups.derkeiler.com/Archive/ Alt/alt.usage.english/2006-01/msg08123.html

|
If the word egghorn is a missunderstanding of the word leghorn (a chicken race where race is not a competition) one could say that leghorn is an egghorn of leghorn – or vice versa. Words sounding very much the same!
http://iq.lycos.co.uk/qa/show/15773/Hav … thNeutral=

If ever there’s a need to re-christen the eggcorn, may I suggest naming it after jorkel’s sister-in-law (as long as her name isn’t Helen). Honk if you love eggcorns!

Last edited by rogerthat (2008-06-28 18:05:42)

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#16 2008-06-28 15:29:48

DavidTuggy
Eggcornista
From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-11
Posts: 2154
Website

Re: Helenisms

So if a Longhorn (UT graduate/fan) marries an Aggie, and they have a kid, will the kid be an Aghorn?


*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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#17 2008-06-28 18:07:20

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

Re: Helenisms

Rogerthat—Is it okay if we call you “Roger” since there’s currently no competition? I also keep meaning to ask TootsNYC if “Toots” is okay. We slow typists appreciate every shortcut.

I agree with the “meta-eggcorn” analysis, and I think Liberman’s “meta-eggcorn” coinage is delicious.

I think most of the occurrences of “egghorn” on the prominent language blogs/sites are pretty suspicious. The Wordcraft Community and the alt.usage.english people were early “eggcorn” adopters who were, I think, using “eggcorn” even before the Database existed. So I suspect a number of your “unintentional slips” above. In fact, the alt.usage example is clearly a pun if you read that post. And the last example you’ve got cited is also pretty clearly wordplay if you go to the site.

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#18 2008-06-28 18:52:41

rogerthat
Eggcornista
From: Denver, Colorado, USA
Registered: 2008-05-19
Posts: 64

Re: Helenisms

Apologies to Laura for the thread-jack. Thanks David, you really crack me up. I neglected to mention that I’m still chuckling about ‘¿Cuál?’. Would you believe that I’m an uncle to one each of an UT Austin and an A&M grad? Granted, the odds aren’t that slim, since both schools do have massive alumna (or is it ‘alumnum’?). Moreover, I’m not a great uncle (just slightly above average).

Pat, thanks for the added depth. Roger is fine with me, even if you type it real fast.

Last edited by rogerthat (2008-06-28 18:56:54)

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