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#26 2009-01-31 14:13:17

DavidTuggy
Eggcornista
From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-12
Posts: 1686
Website

Re: petty Annie and vigil auntie

kem wrote:

A “kind of imagery shift?” Is that some sort of metaphor? I don’t know what “imagery shift,” as that term applies to eggcorns, would mean in such a context.

Metaphoricality is a matter of degree, I am convinced. It is not visual images that shift in such a case, but then much of what we have been calling ‘“imagery shift,” as that term applies to eggcorns’ is not visual. Is it metaphorical? Or are we just using the word “imagery” in a wider sense?

The only world in which your phrase would not be a metaphor is one in which every unique syntactical context and use framework of every word gave it a unique semantics. Such a world provides us with more eggcorns than we can handle.

I am not afraid of such a world, though things may not necessarily be as bad as that!

Suppose I’m walking in a garden and I see a chap coming toward me. I don’t know him. Just before he gets to me, I hear someone call from the far side of the garden “Hen-REEE.” (People often switch the accent of a multisyllablic name to the last syllable when using the name as shouting query-same reason we say “soo-WEE” when calling pigs.) The fellow looks toward the sound. At that moment I reach him. As it turns out, I have never heard the name “Henry” before, so I have no idea that it should be pronounced “HEN-ree.” But I am clever enough to figure out that the fellow I’m looking at is the fellow who has just been called. He notices me. I stick out my hand and say (in all seriousness) “Hen-REE, I presume.” ¶ By your analysis, I would have just uttered an eggcorn.

Whoa! It’s a plausible enough case for a thought-experiment: things like that happen all the time as one is learning a language, and, if they are not corrected, become part of that language as entrenched in the learner’s mind. But, no, I would not say you had uttered an eggcorn.
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This is, like Doris and Deloris, two different pronunciations of a simplex name. For us outsiders they are two different names, to be sure, but for the speaker they are the same, and there is no clear difference in meaning associated with the el which differentiates them phonologically.

In the case of Hen-REE, as you note, there is a difference in meaning associated (in our minds) with the difference in pronunciation: Hen-REE means “Henry as addressed in a shouting query”, whereas HEN-ree means “Henry in practically any other context”. But your hypothetical learner does not mean, by Hen-REE, anything about a shouting query. Contrast that with our paradigm example: in “eggcorn” the speaker does indeed clearly mean “egg” and “corn”, as the rest of us would if we pronounced the word that way, and as we realize when we hear it pronounced carefully.

“Hen-REE” has a slight different sound than the correct “HEN-ree,” and it has a different performance context, “Hen-REE” being appropriate for contexts of shouted calling, “HEN-ree” being the pronunciation in conversational contexts. I have used the wrong sound for the context.

Using the wrong sound for the context doth not an eggcorn make. (A mistake, yes.)
.
The “Maurice E.” kind of eggcorn is to me a kind of (near)inverse of what has happened to me repeatedly, where I suddenly realized, say, that Maryann or Idajane was really a double rather than a single name. I had thought it was one name while most people realized it was two. If that had happened in the other direction (everybody else thought it was one but I thought it was two), I’d be happy to call that a kind of eggcorn. And I would call the change from a single to a double name a shift of imagery, in the wider sense of that term.

Last edited by DavidTuggy (2009-02-09 20:30:43)


*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 .)

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#27 2009-02-01 14:59:23

nilep
Eggcornista
Registered: 2007-03-21
Posts: 291

Re: petty Annie and vigil auntie

[I composed this before I saw David’s reply of 1/31. That argument, which does relate to pronunciation, might render this addition moot, at least to the current thread.]

kem wrote:

By your analysis, I would have just uttered an eggcorn. [...] I have used the wrong sound for the context.

You seem to understand David’s argument differently than I do. I don’t see his arguments about Liberace << Libber Archie as based on sound but on syntax. David wrote:

But “Something-Archie” adds syntactic structure, making it a modified proper name instead of just a simple one.

I understand David to be arguing [at least in part] that a change in syntactic structure is a change in (structural) meaning, even if it is not a change in (lexical) semantics. Reanalyzing a single lexical item, the proper noun Liberace, as a syntactic phrase, an unknown adjective plus the proper name Archie, changes the structural meaning. David might therefore argue that it is an eggcorn – a reanalysis that introduces new meaning.

By the way, I don’t really agree that Libber Archie or Liebe Archie is an eggcorn. But I’m willing to concede that I might be too much a semantic purist in making this conclusion, excluding syntax [and prosody?] from ‘meaning’.

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#28 2009-02-01 19:34:33

kem
Eggcornista
From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2030

Re: petty Annie and vigil auntie

I think we may be working ourselves back from the brink of eggcorn oblivion. We agree that

(1) Hen-REE/HEN-ree is not an eggcorn. Switching use contexts of a proper name is not grounds for an imagery shift.

(2) Doris/Deloris is not an eggcorn. Adding a meaningless internal syllable between “Do” and “ris” is not an imagery shift.

I can’t, then, see why “Liberace/Liberarchie” would be an eggcorn. It’s just switching one name for another, substituting the familiar “AR-chie” for the unfamiliar “AH-chee.” The prepended two syllables, the meaningless word fragment “liber,” provides an in-word context for the switch. But where is the imagery shift that is essential to eggcorns?

When we grasp at straws by trying to make “liber” mean something (“lieber,” “libber”) or “archie” mean something (a funny puppet), don’t we tacitly admit that simple name substitution is not grounds for calling something an eggcorn? These straws were clever suggestions, but I’m certain that the people in my family who called the pianist “Liberarchie” had none of those ideas in mind. “Lieber” is too German, “libber” is too modern, and Archie the puppet is too English.

Last edited by kem (2009-02-01 19:36:03)

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#29 2009-02-02 05:35:32

DavidTuggy
Eggcornista
From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-12
Posts: 1686
Website

Re: petty Annie and vigil auntie

I agree that we agree on most of this.
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I certainly agree that “lieber” and “libber” are somewhat unlikely candidates for a number of users like your parents, and that it is both (a) perfectly reasonable to suppose that “Liber” means ”??” to them, and (b) clear that your question regarding the eggcornhood or lack thereof of “LiberArchie” is a good one, and clearer precisely in the case where the first two syllables can’t be identified with any particular morpheme.
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I would simply restate my position, that I would consider it a kind of eggcorn because it adds some kind of vague syntactic structure (one would be pretty certain it was a modifier), but it’s not a very “good” or complete eggcorn because the first morpheme in that structure can’t be identified.
.
Something like “Maurice E.” for “Morrisey” is better, because both morphemes (the name and the initial) can be identified.


*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 .)

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#30 2009-02-03 15:18:43

TootsNYC
Eggcornista
Registered: 2007-06-19
Posts: 263

Re: petty Annie and vigil auntie

Names don’t have semantics.

well, I’m no Martha Stewart, but . . .

I think there is still a big semantic shift, and yes, they are eggcorns.

The shift is away from “ante” and to “some generic name for a person, bcs this expression is about the attributes or attitudes, etc., of people.”

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#31 2009-02-03 17:14:07

kem
Eggcornista
From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2030

Re: petty Annie and vigil auntie

TootsNYC

“Martha Stewart” in your sentence has a modifier. It is not a proper name.

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#32 2009-02-03 17:45:59

DavidTuggy
Eggcornista
From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-12
Posts: 1686
Website

Re: petty Annie and vigil auntie

It is not being used as a proper name, true.
.
But, if as a proper name it has no meaning, where does the meaning in the common-noun usage of that proper name come from? Why can Toots use such a common noun productively and immediately be understood?

Last edited by DavidTuggy (2009-02-03 17:46:16)


*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 .)

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#33 2009-02-03 17:46:22

kem
Eggcornista
From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2030

Re: petty Annie and vigil auntie

David-

I think we are progressing. I wanted to find out where you would draw the line on these proper name eggcorns. I didn’t get you to admit that Liberace/Liberarchie was not an eggcorn, but I sense by your hedging (a “kind of imagery shift,” a “kind of eggcorn,” “incomplete”) an element of doubt.

I would go much further. Not only is Liberarchie not an eggcorn-neither is Maurice E./Morrisey. In fact, I would cast a pall of suspicion over all proper name eggcorns. At the very heart of the eggcorn flip is the invocation of plausible (for the speaker, at least) imagery that compensates for not having grasped the real semantics of the acorn. Proper nouns are semantically odd, and their oddness occurs in exactly the places where eggcorned common nouns do their imagery shifts. The syntax restrictions of proper nouns-not accepting articles, modifiers, nonrestrictive noun clauses-correspond to the places where the freewheeling common nouns show off their deep participation in the games of meaning. The reason that we find so few proper names in dictionaries is that dictionaries purport to capture just those aspects of words, their traditional lexical meanings, that are deficient in proper names. Without these kinds of lexical meaning, full-bodied eggcorns are impossible. Proper nouns give us, at best, the insubstantial spectres of eggcorns, eggcorn ghosts.

This take on proper-name eggcorns does not mean that I would reject “penny Annie” and “Lehmann’s terms” out of hand. Proper nouns transform themselves into common nouns at the drop of a hat. We have to sort through every instance of an eggcorn with a proper name to find these subtle transformations. “Annie” is a good example. The name has a cultural association with penury. Orphan Annie, a long running comic strip, a hit Broadway play, and a money-making movie, is a prodigious social meme for poverty. When I was a bepimpled teen we were brought to tears by the “poor little Annie” who made artificial flowers and who froze in her tenement room amid the products of her labor (lyrics at http://www.tsrocks.com/b/beautiful_sout … owers.html). If I said to an audience “the woman in rags pulled a grimy Annie behind her as she hobbled toward the front of the bread line,” I think most of my hearers would understand “Annie” as a common noun and make the right meaning associations. So “penny Annie” has some claim to being an eggcorn, perhaps even a good one. About “Lehmann’s terms” I’m less sanguine, but we have discussed it at length, so I’ll say no more here, other than reiterate the point I made earlier, that eggcorns containing proper nouns for which we can find no evidence of de-properization before the eggcorn event must remain suspect.

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#34 2009-02-04 00:23:34

kem
Eggcornista
From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2030

Re: petty Annie and vigil auntie

One addendum. The remarks in the previous post apply to proper names as eggcorns. There is also the situation where the proper name is the acorn. I don’t think I have any reservations about these transformations, as long as some part of the resulting eggcorn can be construed as a common noun. We have recently discussed Tenner Reef and Tajma Hall. The introduction of a common noun in the eggcorn allows the new imagery to happen. What the new imagery is similar to is what the proper noun points at-the Taj Mahal is like a big hall.

Last edited by kem (2009-02-04 01:15:08)

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#35 2009-02-04 15:21:38

nilep
Eggcornista
Registered: 2007-03-21
Posts: 291

Re: petty Annie and vigil auntie

Eureka: I think I’ve got it. (Thank you, Kem, for answering my questions on the Pokemon thread.)

Taj Mahal may be thought of as a kind of hall. Thus, “Tajma Hall” can be an eggcorn, regardless of the fact that Tajma probably means nothing more than “some proper name” (or maybe “some unknown foreign word”) to the perpetrator.

On the other hand, “Liber Archie” is not an eggcorn if neither piece means anything more than “some proper name” (or “some unknown word”).

The disagreement is whether “Liber Archie” is a very weak eggcorn, or not an eggcorn at all. I don’t think this disagreement necessarily rests on one’s precise stand on the semantics of proper nouns, but on how much meaning / imagery /semantics is required to regard something as a minimal eggcorn.

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