Eggcorn Forum

Discussions about eggcorns and related topics

You are not logged in.


Registrations are currently closed because of a technical problem. Please send email to if you wish to register.

The forum administrator reserves the right to request users to plausibly demonstrate that they are real people with an interest in the topic of eggcorns. Otherwise they may be removed with no further justification. Likewise, accounts that have not been used for posting may be removed.

Thanks for your understanding.

Chris -- 2018-04-11

#1 2008-07-13 16:28:54

Registered: 2006-08-08
Posts: 1455

How and when are eggcorns formed?

The “penny drop” thread got me very philosophical about how and when eggcorns are generated. So, humor me and consider whether you agree with some or all that I’m positing below…

Consider the expression “It was so quiet, one could hear a pin drop,” and ask by what means the word “pen” or “penny” might replace “pin.”

By one route, an attentive listener might hear the word “pin,” decide that the imagery doesn’t make sense, and substitute a nearby word “pen” or “penny” which does make sense to him—arguing that perhaps this is what was intended in the first place.

By a second route, an inattentive listener might hear “could hear a pnnn drop,” and be left with the impression of a “pen” of a “penny” dropping and unknowingly make the mental substitution then and there.

By a third route, a listener—probably inattentive—might hear the expression and not give it any deep thought until he later tries to reproduce it in conversation. At that later point, the listener becomes a foggy recollector (if you will) and produces the original the best he can but with the substitution of either “pen” or “penny.”

In all instances, the original is corrupted by a slight degree as far as the sounds are concerned, but by a significant degree as far as imagery is concerned (while still working within the same context).

I wonder if we could say that these three different processes all have the net effect of producing an eggcorn.
Any thoughts?

Last edited by jorkel (2008-07-13 16:33:53)



#2 2008-07-13 17:02:37

From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-11
Posts: 2154

Re: How and when are eggcorns formed?

Add to them a fourth factor: the foggy recollector sorta also remembers a phrase out there about a penny dropping and blends it in.

Think about it, and maybe the pin will drop.

I’ve been pondering the implications of Facebook’s SocialAds announcement and it has created some interesting lines of thought. The moment the pin dropped was when Dave Winer linked to one of his old posts that contains the following money quote: that’s when the whole idea of advertising will go poof, will disappear. If it’s perfectly targeted, it isn’t advertising, it’s information. Information is welcome, advertising is offensive. … xster.aspx

Then the pin dropped and he realised that by having a UK phone number he should have put in the +27 code before the number. Doh! ...

(Same process backwards, I think. A fairly reasonable eggcorn: the pin of a locking mechanism drops into place. I’ll report it over on the Contributions part of the site.)

Last edited by DavidTuggy (2008-07-13 17:07:39)

*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 .)



Board footer

Powered by PunBB
PunBB is © 2002–2005 Rickard Andersson
Individual posters retain the copyright to their posts.

RSS feeds: active topicsall new posts