Eggcorn Forum

Discussions about eggcorns and related topics

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Chris -- 2015-05-30

#1 2008-08-26 10:29:43

Registered: 2007-03-21
Posts: 291

Perpetrators and Overhearers

DavidTuggy wrote (in another thread):

I’m starting focus more on the difference between perp and audience, and to think it’s important for the definition of eggcorns. A prototypical eggcorn not only has a difference in imagery from the standard conception, but the perpetrator of the eggcorn is well aware of the “new” imagery (though not aware that it is new), and enters into it whole-heartedly (whole-mindedly?). This is different from cases (common in other kinds of malapropisms) where there is new imagery that the audience may see in what the perp has said, but he himself is not aware of it.

I would take that as axiomatic (though with the caveat below). An eggcorn must not only make good semantic sense to eggcornistas and overhearers in the audience, it must make sense to the actual utterer – the perpetrator, in David’s phrase.

The caveat is that, of course, it’s never easy, and often not possible at all to discern what the perpetrator actually thinks when she/he utters an apparent eggcorn. Occasionally we get a confession from the perp.

Chad Nilep, on lock, stock, and barrel
I never understood “lock, stock, and barrel” as a description of a musket. In my mind it described a general store: the lock on the door, the stock on the shelves, and the cracker barrel and other store fixtures.

Chris Waigl, on unphased
I know I was thinking of phases of waves. I was a physics student back then (and am of course a non-native speaker)

Other times we can make a strong circumstantial case based on the evidence.

Africa News, axes of evil (note “blunt axes”)
Jolly good, he has only 2 more years to run! Let us hope his successor will be less preoccupied with chasing weapons of mass destruction phantoms, blunt ‘axes of evil’ and regime change exports like he has been doing.

But often, we are left with simply a hunch that it must be eggcornish to the perpetrator, because it is to the preponderance of eggcornistas.



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