Discussions about eggcorns and related topics
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Chris -- 2011-03-08
“A whole slew” refers to a large number or quantity of whatever you choose to describe, and comes from the Irish word slua, for a crowd or army. A “slough”, on the other hand, I know to be a shallow, stagnant accumulation of water, generally with a muddy, sucking bottom. Slough, or slew in the United States, apparently, is related to the Dutch word slechten, which means to lower, to cut, to destroy. Also related to ‘to slay’. A Gaelic sloc is a pit or pool. Also akin to German schlucken, Swedish sluka, and Dutch slikken, to swallow. Think thick slick sucking slithy slime and you’ll get the idea. Better steer clear of John Bunyan’s allegorical “Slough of Despond.” “It is the low ground where the scum and filth of a guilty conscience, caused by conviction of sin, continually gather, and for this reason it is called the Slough of Despond1.” Getting a good feel for a slough?
Where I live slew and slough are homophones. Going from a Slough of Despond to a Slew of Despond is not rare on the web. There were 93000 ughits for the original and 317 for a slew of despond. The American spelling makes that substitution impossible to auscultate as a reimaging, and I found no instances of “a whole slew of despond.” However,”a whole slough of” can have eggcornish potential when it is used to refer to a large collection of unpleasant things—or a dismaying mixmash. I selected the following examples from among the 2860 ughits for “a whole slough of.”
Philosophy of Biology:
It never makes sense to talk about ecological boundaries without a reference to ‘boundary for what (who)?’ Like the trout and the muskrat’s two perspectives on where the lake ends. ... (I think I just opened a whole slough of philosophical problems (or more likely confusions) in that note). And it’s clear that different species see different boundaries. For example, the bog fritillary butterfly perceives edges in peat bog habitat and makes a u-turn when it reaches the edge of a good patch…
Book: “Researching Education”
`If nothing else, a theory is a convenience – a necessity, really – organising a whole slough of unassorted facts, laws, concepts, constructs, principles, into a meaningful and manageable form. It constitutes an attempt to make sense out of what we know concerning a given phenomenon.’
(http://books.google.ca/books?id=-kgxPZq … t&resnum=3)
Allergies, food intolerances, gastro-intestinal upset, yeast overgrowth, fatigue, menstrual disorders, chronic muscular pain, and a whole slough of other symptoms and diseases are showing up on the radar.
(http://wholegourmet.blogspot.com/2007_0 … chive.html)
In addition to the neck sharks and insomnia, I’m also experiencing a whole slough of symptoms
In fact, we’re not even referencing a whole slough of occult conspiracies involving psychic vampires from business and politics who suck you dry of any dissenting desires.
Sometimes the reimaging potential of the slew/slough switch was clearly not intentional:
“How to avoid falling into the trap of infidelity”
The answer is simple…Marriage Education is where it’s at! For marriage education visit X. They list a whole slough of churches and Healthy Marriage Coalitions that promote marriage education.
(http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?sectio … id=5905263)
Last edited by burred (2009-04-10 03:24:39)
This sort of reminds me of klakritz’s “axes of evil” eggcorn. He suggested that this was a reshaping of axis >> axe; I thought axes could just as easily be the plural of axis. I was finally won to Ken’s view after I found a reference to “blunt axes of evil.”
http://eggcorns.lascribe.net/forum/view … hp?id=2511
As burred says, in the US at least slough can also be spelled slew. If that’s the case, then isn’t slough a likely misspelling for slew, reversing the the course? The references to problems, symptoms, and occult make it likely that the writers had a metaphorical slough in mind – likely, but not certain.
Perhaps these examples add even more to the likelihood.
Most of the others sank in a slough of goofs, with many erring on routine problems.
http://ww1.prweb.com/prfiles/2004/05/06 … Report.doc
As we drown in a slough of materialism and haste, a poverty of spirit and nation becomes entrenched until even the poets are no longer immune.
Even these, though, might play on “Slough of Despond” as likely as “a whole slew”. Maybe it’s another fuzzy area?