Discussions about eggcorns and related topics
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Chris -- 2011-03-08
I’ve run across this in student papers a number of times, but I was surprised to encounter it in the introduction to a recent collection of science fiction stories. Gardner Dozois, the editor of Galileo’s Children: Tales of Science vs. Superstition (Pyr, 2005) uses it twice:
In China, under the Ming dynasty, Grand Eunuch Cheng Ho commanded the mightiest navy the world had ever seen, far in advance in numbers and sophistication of technology than anything Europe would see for a hundred years or more – until the Confusionist factor at court, fearful that new ideas and contact with foreigners with very different customs would shake up the rigidly stratified class structure of Chinese society, convinced the emperor to institute the Great Withdrawal of 1433, disbanding and scuttling the mighty fleets and forbidding his subjects to travel abroad upon pain of death. (page 14)
The desire to preserve a rigidly stratified class system, superstition, fear of foreigners, and the distaste of Confusionists for change soon led to the de facto suppression of gun manufacture [in Japan] and the banning of foreign trade – and indeed any foreign contact. (page 15)
Given the theme of the collection, I guess it’s just possible that Dozois employs this reanalysis of “Confucianism” intentionally, but that kind of nastiness doesn’t seem like his style. And since the back of the dust jacket for the book refers to something called “stem call research,” bad copy editing seems the more likely explanation. A lot of other people who should know better also employ this, too. Examples:
“Confusionism teaches us that we should keep our body intact even after death because our body is a gift from our parents, it’s a gift from our ancestors,” says Dr. Akihiko of the Heart Institute of Japan.
Those whose heritage was influenced by Confusionism view the body as being more sacred as one approaches the area of the head where the soul is believed to reside (Kaczor, 1988).
http://maxweber.hunter.cuny.edu/pub/ere … iscip.html
In Vietnam, a wide variety of religions such as the Taoist-Confucianist-Mahayana Buddhist outlook, Catholicism, Protestantism, and Cao Daism (a mixture of Buddhism, Taoism, Confusionism, Catholicism, and Indian mysticism) all co-exist along with other popular beliefs and practices (Schreiver, 1990).
http://ethnomed.org/ethnomed/clin_topic … ancer.html
If the apocalypse depicted here is imminent, it is also infinitely deferred. While Christianity embraces teleology, other beliefs do not share such end-time-certainties, and Hale’s angels and demons, with their iconographic nods to Confusionism, Buddhism, Hinduism, et al, belong to numerous traditions, or rather, to a juxtaposition of traditions and beliefs.
This video popped up on CNN today: http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/bestof … ideosearch
One of the less-explicable examples on the web of the Confucianism/Confusionism mixup is on the web page of Karen Armstrong’s literary agent. The text reads:
“Atlantic UK and Knopf US publish The Great Transformation, about the period from 700-300 BC during which all the great major world religions – Taoism, Confusionism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Monotheism in the Middle East and Greek mystical rationalism – came into being.”
The bottom line: agents look at what authors write, but authors don’t look at what their agents write.
It’s another self-referential one for David Tuggy.
Someone who relates Confusionism to Taoism and Buddhism seems to be making a spelling error rather than a considered reshaping. On the other hand, might someone who considers these ‘superstitions’ take it as a sort of exonym?
For what it’s worth, MS Office Word 2003 SP1 corrects the misspelling *Confusian as confusion and *Confusious as confusions, but corrects *Confusianism as Confucianism.
Someone who relates Confusionism to Taoism and Buddhism seems to be making a spelling error rather than a considered reshaping.
Well, why? I do think that the huge majority of instances of this must be misspellings (I’m actually a bit surprised to see that I put this under “Contributions” rather than “Slips”). And certainly people who are intimately familiar with Eastern belief systems seem less likely to have intended the spelling—even though they account for a surprisingly large number of examples.
But why does the fact that someone can correctly name two Eastern religions preclude the possibility of eggcornish logic in their use of a third in the same context? I don’t find that argument compelling. (Part of the problem here may be the difference between our respective senses of how eggcorns arise; as I’ve said before, I’m not convinced that they’re always “considered”—I feel they only need to make some sense on the spur of the moment.)
Well, why [would someone who relates Confusionism to Taoism and Buddhism probably not utter the former as an eggcorn]?
But why does the fact that someone can correctly name two Eastern religions preclude the possibility of eggcornish logic in their use of a third in the same context?
Fair enough; it certainly doesn’t preclude the possibility. What I meant to suggest is that the co-location suggests that the utterer at least knows that all three are religions. One could think that Confusionism is a religion that is based on confusion. (For me at least, something like that would be required to make it a proper eggcorn). I don’t find that terribly likely, but it’s certainly not impossible.
It might not be a spelling error, but to me it seems more like a slip than an eggcorn.