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Chris -- 2018-04-11

#1 2009-07-20 15:24:45

From: Montreal
Registered: 2008-03-17
Posts: 1101

Oh, the unmedicated gall

In a radio play I heard this morning, an Australian actress described what to my ear was a “mitical” emergency (medical). Thinking that others might therefore hear “mitigate” as medicate, I went looking for examples on the net. Et voila.

Gall is nerve, effrontery, impudence, audacity, brass, cheek, culotte. It associated with the gall bladder in traditional medicine. “Mitigated” means softened. So unmitigated gall means in-your-face cheek. In this day and age, when all of the humours can be tuned through chemistry, unmedicated gall invites images of unrestrained nerve (through the uncontrolled expression of yellow bile). This has apparently been noted previously as a malaprop, by Richard Leterer, in Anguished English.

Forum dispute:
You come in here and have the unmedicated gall to judge someone when you a no different than her and she’s the worst.
( … 2EU0LJ/p11)

Aircraft forum:
They once kicked me off the forum because I had the unmedicated gall to question the behavior of some of their aircraft.
( … 975&page=4)

Online collaborative fiction:
Seth twisted about incessantly, quite uncomfortable with her position—not to mention with the way things were going in general. Her opponent was going to go to SLEEP in her presence… the NERVE! The UNMEDICATED GALL!
( … 283&page=3)

Another amusing image drift is as medicating circumstances. The charges are not as serious as they appear: there are medicating circumstances. So why doesn’t everyone just take a Valium? The third example here involves medical circumstances, in fact.

Military history:
General Short and Admiral Kimmel were held responsible for Pearl Harbor… but just maybe there were medicating circumstances.
( … forum_id=8)

Military talk:
Time has been kind to Fletcher Christian. Through the years the collaboration of the stories have shown that he had no under recourse. So I would say mutiny was justified under very medicating circumstances.
( … 144&id=789)

Home refinancing:
If you can document that you where physically sick and unable to work, that would be medicating circumstances that they would consider to allow the file to pass and be funded.
( … 9+%3F.html)

Child welfare gossip:
And how can anything that the neighbour says make any dif to the case at hand: typical psycho thinking, as if the medicating circumstances are the facts.
( … 58312.html)

I didn’t pursue this one too far. I did see some amusing examples of “unmedicated disaster” referring to the behaviour of certain celebrities, though I’m not sure that the speakers thought that one through.

Last edited by burred (2009-07-20 22:28:04)



#2 2009-07-21 13:08:04

From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2601

Re: Oh, the unmedicated gall

Hugely funny. But perhaps a little too funny.

“Medicating circumstances” seems to be a real eggcorn. Many of the dozen web instances of this phrase occur in contexts that appear to be too serious to feature a pun. “Unmedicated gall,” though, is a known pun, and I can’t see any examples of the phrase on the web that rule out its intentional use.

Some of Richard Lederer’s books have undocumented examples of slips that may be intentional puns. Paradoxically, Lederer, who is a serious student of English and often makes use of the Internet to find examples of language errors, sometimes muddies the waters for himself and the rest of us. Expressions in his popular books get repeated in emails and on web sites, first with quotation marks, then without quotation marks. At the end of the line stands the user who naively appeals a folk etymology to justify the pun-derived expression (Nothing new in all of this, of course-misinterpreted humor has been swelling the vocabulary of English from the beginning.). The intrusion of intentionality into the process taints the eggcorn a bit, at least to my taste.

Hatching new language, one eggcorn at a time.



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