Discussions about eggcorns and related topics
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Chris -- 2011-03-08
If you have ever suffered from acid reflux, this reshaping will make a lot of sense to you. When I eat chocolate or drink something carbonated right before going to bed, chances are very good I’ll wake up with reflux – it feels automatic and “reflexive.” The reshaping occurs alongside the standard spelling with surprising frequency.
This is very common: it gets 136k hits, though that’s admittedly inflated by all those hits for the album by political rapper-cum-stockbroker Paris. Examples:
My husband suffered from Acid reflex after he had taken ibuprofen for a long period of time.
http://www.ehow.com/how_4470969_cure-ac … -gerd.html
There are many causes of heartburn and acid reflex.
People suffering from acid reflex are surprisingly ignorant of the disease.
http://stopacidrefluxfast.com/blog/tag/ … x-symptoms
[The relatively long first blog post on this page appears under a heading that uses the standard spelling, but the spelling “reflex” is used consistently and repeatedly in the body of the text. In the second post on the page, “reflux” is used just as consistently.]
The following citations give just two examples (of many) in which the text seems to switch back and forth between the two spellings:
To learn more about Gastroesophageal reflux disease symptoms, visit our site where you’ll find eating diet with acid reflux and how to natural treatment cure for acid reflex.
http://ezinearticles.com/?What-Causes-A … &id=411580
* Alcohol and soda – All alcoholic beverages consumed in whatever form are a thrust to acid reflux problem. In addition, sodas, with caffeine content, tobacco in form of cigarettes or chewing orally are other possible catalysts of acid reflux.
Acidic sugars – Acidic sugar content in chocolates, peppermint, cakes, pastries are other reasons that might trigger acid reflex in the body.
Spicy, fried and fatty foods – Foods that are spicy and incite taste such as pizzas, breads, toasts, burgers, soft drinks and many more also aid in developing acid reflex condition.
Intake of acidic foods – Heavy intake of acidic foods such as tomatoes, lemons, pickles, red peppers, and black peppers further boost acid reflux and heartburn condition.
http://www.diseaseillnessarticles.com/? … cid-reflux
[I had to alter the punctuation of this one a bit to get it to post right, but I didn’t touch any spellings.]
Last edited by patschwieterman (2008-09-13 03:54:58)
This seems to cross the eggcorn bar but not the good eggcorn bar (as suggested by Kem). Reflex in the sense of “an act of returning” or “a reflection (of light etc.)” is not very different from reflux in the sense of “a return flow” or “a reflection of fluid”. It’s clearly an eggcorn – the words sound similar, and the meaning fits easily. But since the semantic shift is so slight it lacks some of that human creativity that I find so satisfying in the best eggcorns.
I’m not willing to dispute your aesthetic judgment on this one—it doesn’t set off rockets for me, either. But I think you’re relying far too heavily on etymological, learned senses of “reflex” for your understanding of how eggcorners might be thinking about it here. In terms of bodily functions, I think most of us are going to be thinking of reflexes as, well, reflexes—automatic or more or less automatic responses of the body to certain stimuli. As I noted above, GERD can feel pretty reflexive—if you eat peppermints, you get reflux. To me “reflex” in this sense isn’t just a slight shift of imagery—I think people are more likely to think of eyes blinking or of knees jerking in response to a doctor’s plastic hammer than they are to think of light bouncing back from a surface in an “act of returning.” Do many people really employ “reflex” to mean something like that in normal, everyday usage? I think that has more than a whiff of the lamp about it.
patschwieterman wrote (among other excised things):
But I think you’re relying far too heavily on etymological, learned senses of “reflex” for your understanding of how eggcorners might be thinking about it here. ... Do many people really employ “reflex” to mean something like that in normal, everyday usage?
Well I do, but I can’t speak to ‘ordinary’ people. I am highly educated, and – I confess – more than a bit affected.
To me, the image of the doctor’s little mallet is also central. But it seems like you are focusing on the “automatic” element of that tableau, where I’m focusing on the “reciprocal” element: the hammer goes down, the knee goes up.
Again, speaking only for myself, the major difference between reflux and reflex is the fluid necessarily involved in the former, rather than the speed or automaticity of the latter. Essentially, “reflux” is a type of reflex involving fluids.
Okay, here’s the problem. Lots of people are using “acid reflex,” so if their usage really is informed by a sense of “reflex” that means something like “an act of returning,” it shouldn’t be very hard to set aside one’s hypereducation, turn to Google, and find some evidence that plenty of people are indeed using “reflex” in that way. If you can do that (I wasn’t able to), then you’d offer a pretty serious challenge to the eggcornicity of this reshaping. But I’m surprised that you made that argument without any evidence to back it up.
Also, you wrote
Essentially, “reflux” is a type of reflex involving fluids.
Well, sez who? I think that’s more or less how eggcorners are thinking about this—but that works for me, not against me. But do the people who worry about the technical meanings of these things really believe that reflux is a type of reflex? Again, if your argument is valid, it should be possible to provide evidence from the Web in support of it. Plenty of medical writers talk about acid reflux or GERD—and as someone who suffers from it, I’ve read a little bit of the literature—but I’ve never seen anybody talk about it in terms of reflex. As far as I can tell, it’s not a “reflex” in any usual medical sense. But counterevidence of that type would also be powerful. I just don’t think you’re going to find any.
Finally, let’s get back to dictionary definitions. You’re certainly right that “return” or “rebound” is one of the senses of the word “reflex.” But the OED also marks that sense as “obsolete,” and the most recent citation given is from 1683:
5. Return, rebound; indirect action or operation. Obs.
a1613 OVERBURY A Wife, etc. (1638) 45 Whence in their face, the Faire no pleasure have, But by reflex of what thence other take. 1626 LAUD Serm. v. Wks. 1847 I. 131 Some directly concern God, and some only by reflex. 1683 D. A. Art Converse 44 Let us abstain from railery least it return by reflex upon our selves.
At this point, I don’t believe that “an act of returning” or anything similar is a sense of “reflex” available to the great majority of people writing “acid reflex.”
Last edited by patschwieterman (2008-09-16 05:52:47)
This seems to cross the eggcorn bar …
I do, but I can’t speak to ‘ordinary’ people.
In other words, he agreed with patschwieterman in all but the most insignificant details. Then, with an apology for having again offended patschwieterman unawares, he vowed to stop participating in this thread.
I’m in no way offended. But unless someone can show me some evidence to the contrary, I don’t believe that a sense of “reflex” that had only a relatively brief existence over 300 years ago is really relevant to contemporary usage. That’s a pretty significant detail.
Last edited by patschwieterman (2008-09-18 05:25:28)
The roundtripper also occurs. In the recent Japanese earthquake/tsunami reportage I heard someone in the media speak about a “reflux reaction” to run when aftershocks hit.
The web has more examples of the replacement of “reflex” with “reflux.” There are, of course, legitimate “reflux reactions” in chemistry and physiology. It takes a bit of parsing to tell whether the speaker has these more scientific analogies in mind, but there are a number of cases where “reflux” has clearly been substituted for “reflex.”
Probably not an eggcorn in this direction.
Examples of “reflux” for “reflex:”
: “Ned was able to overcome his reflux reaction to magic, and performed a trick of his own for his sweetheart, ”
: “So, there I was, looking at dresses.. and my reflux reaction kept going off.”
: “The gag reflux is designed to stop us from choking.”
On the page of this last example my browser inserts a Google ad for the antacid Gaviscon. Apparently the ad algorithms used at Google have not been potty trained for malaprops.
She has quick refluxes and she’s very strict. No one dares to insult her or disobey her orders.
She was satisfied by his quick refluxes and saw him to be good competition in the future if their paths were to cross.
*If the human mind were simple enough for us to understand,
we would be too simple-minded to understand it* .