Discussions about eggcorns and related topics
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Thanks for your understanding.
Chris -- 2018-04-11
I just heard respected NPR newsperson Susie Gharib say, ”...a shot across the bow.” She pronouced, “bow” as if it were a tied ribbon bow or the sort of bow one shoots arrows with. But, we eggcorners know that this expression is a naval metaphor. A shot across the bow is pronouced as the bow of a ship, same as a theatrical bow, same as bowing out.
We know that, “a shot across the bow [pronounced BA-OO]” is a warning shot, intended to miss, shot across the bow rather than shot into the bow.
So… Is this an eggcorn? Has Susie always believed that, “a shot across the bow” has something to do with opposing archers who shoot across one another’s bows? Or, did she just read her telepromter too quickly?
Other than your suggestion of the opposing archers’ shots crossing, I can’t think of what SG might have thought, if she in fact was misunderstanding the word or the nautical roots of the expression. I wonder how many NPR correspondents are also the writers of their reports. I’ve always thought that was the case with most. And if so, then it would reflect a misunderstanding of the expression rather than a reading error.
On the other hand, if you’ve not been exposed to or had occasion to use nautical terminology, you might only have read the word and mispronounced it in your mind as “bo” with no misunderstanding of the meaning. It is an intriguing entry, and we can only speculate as to why she mispronounced “bow” in this context.
Feeling quite combobulated.
I heard what I assume was the same broadcast Tom Neely heard, and I noticed “shot across the bo”. At the time, though, I concluded that it was a mispronunciation due to mis-reading the script. I vaguely recall that there was some disfluency just after the pronunciation in question, which suggested that the speaker recognized the pronunciation as an error. Unfortunately, I don’t have a recording of the program to double check.