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Chris -- 2018-04-11

#1 2009-11-21 09:21:03

terrycollmann
Member
Registered: 2009-11-21
Posts: 11

'plough their trade" for "ply their trade"

Surprisingly common – 44,000 plus raw Google hits, against almost 6 million for “plying their trade”:

” I imagine prostitutes ultimately being forced off local streets and into Tower Hamlets Cemetery where they are able to plough their trade”

“The Afghan Traders used the route as well to plough their trade between the remote settlements in the area.”

”... encouraging the country’s filmmakers and technicians to move away from the big screen and plough their trade in TV with offers of increased salaries”

Easy to see how it was eggcorned: “plough” as a verb is a lot commoner than “ply”, which is now effectively restricted to the “ply (pronoun) trade” expression, and “plough” seems to make sort-of-sense, since ploughing is to do with work.

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#2 2009-11-21 11:13:00

kem
Eggcornista
From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2632

Re: 'plough their trade" for "ply their trade"

If you are new to the forum, terry, welcome aboard. You have a base hit your first time at the plate. We could quibble a bit about the lack of sound parallelism, but it looks to me like a real eggcorn. It’s surprising how common this error is.

I’m getting quite a few more hits for “plough one’s/his/her/their/your trade” than for “plow one’s/his/her/their/your trade.” I wonder why. “Plow is supposedly the American spelling, “plough” the British (I’m Canadian, so I’m just confused about the correct spelling.). It may be that the idiom “ply one’s trade” is more common in the UK than in America, and therefore more available for eggcorning. Or it may be that error is lodged in a speech community and the community is mostly composed of UK people.

Last edited by kem (2009-11-22 13:40:28)


Hatching new language, one eggcorn at a time.

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#3 2009-11-21 11:50:31

Peter Forster
Eggcornista
From: UK
Registered: 2006-09-06
Posts: 1019

Re: 'plough their trade" for "ply their trade"

Nice find, Terry. Plough and ply are near-homophones for some Northern Irish speakers which might help account for your numbers, Kem. It strikes me that ships in constant travel are said to ply the oceans in the same way that tractors plough fields but on a rather larger scale of course – and they turn a watery furrow too. Works equally well in reverse:

Farmers still ply the fields with antique farm implements pulled by oxen and horses. Women and children plant the gardens and stock the larders. ...
www.leisuregrouptravel.com/archives/Oct2004/Midwest.pdf

But, wheresoever thou inhabit’st, ply The fields before fierce winter’s cruelty ^ He begins his Works, to which immediately Tiefore he prepares his brother …
www.archive.org/stream/.../cu31924013128347_djvu.txt – Cached

Living out by King Mountain is like living in a simpler, less cluttered time; a place where old, small tractors still ply the fields and herds of cattle are …
www.nwcpros.com/kingmountain1.asp

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#4 2009-11-21 14:40:30

David Bird
Eggcornista
From: Montréal, QC
Registered: 2009-07-28
Posts: 1576

Re: 'plough their trade" for "ply their trade"

Commoner still, though less colourful, is play their trade. Footballers, prostitutes and even chemists are doing it.

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#5 2009-11-21 14:50:47

patschwieterman
Administrator
From: California
Registered: 2005-10-25
Posts: 1665

Re: 'plough their trade" for "ply their trade"

I think some instances of Peter’s variant are definitely eggcorns, but the situation is interestingly complex. Peter’s second quotation is from George Chapman’s translation of Hesiod’s Works and Days, and Chapman is probably using one of the older senses of “ply”—“to attend to,” or something similar. The OED marks this sense as obsolete, with the last citation from the late 18th century. But if you put in “plying the fields” on books.google.com, you get a number of citations where people or machines are clearly harvesting rather than plowing. Perhaps those writers are just really confused, but maybe this sense of ply quietly lives on or has been brought back into use; in fact, it could conceivably be a modern extension of the sense of ply in “ply one’s trade”—sort of completing the semantic circle.

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#6 2009-11-22 12:06:18

Peter Forster
Eggcornista
From: UK
Registered: 2006-09-06
Posts: 1019

Re: 'plough their trade" for "ply their trade"

I think Pat’s probably right, but returning to my book after my last post almost instantly I came across the following:

‘When the great fenne or Moore, which watreth the walls of the citie on the north-side is frozen, many young men plye upon the yce; some, striding as wide as they may, do slide swiftly … Some tie bones to their feete, and under their heeles, and shoving themselves by a little picked staff, doe slide as swiftly as a bird flieth in the ayre, or an arrow out of a Crossbowe.’
A Survey of London, John Stowe, 1598

Ordinarily I’d have assumed the above plye meant play, but now I’m not so sure – ice skaters too turn a furrow, albeit a small one.

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#7 2009-11-22 13:54:12

patschwieterman
Administrator
From: California
Registered: 2005-10-25
Posts: 1665

Re: 'plough their trade" for "ply their trade"

The verb ply has a lot of older senses. The use in Peter’s example from Stowe seems to match pretty well sense 9 of the OED’s article on (the second verb) “ply”:

9. intr. To direct one’s course (in a ship), steer; to make towards. Also occas. more generally: to travel, make one’s way.

Most of the citations for this sense are nautical, but Spenser had used the verb of knights heading across a plain just two years before Stowe:

1596 SPENSER Faerie Queene IV. i. 38 They chaunced to espie Two other Knights, that towards them did ply With speedie course.

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#8 2009-11-27 12:44:20

David Bird
Eggcornista
From: Montréal, QC
Registered: 2009-07-28
Posts: 1576

Re: 'plough their trade" for "ply their trade"

Ply is wonderfully diverse in meaning. I don’t think it is common to be able to refer to “sense 9” for most words. And yet, it seems too obscure for some who have misheard or misremembered “ply their trade” in the following ways. Wily hookers can ploy their trade; sales people can lay it on thick while applying their trade; footballers who are married to their mates can plight their trade; and noble fisher-folk pride their trade.

Hookers are allowed to ploy their trade in certain Nevada counties
(http://www.onlinecasinoadvisory.com/cas … -42500.htm)

Generally, sales professionals apply their trade in specific regions
(http://jobs.trovit.com/jobs/sales-professionals/10)

Players don’t plight their trade at the highest level throughout
(http://www.redcafe.net/f7/your-tardis-based-xis-174265/)

Friendly fisher-folks of the community who pride their trade along the coast are very hospitable and receive you with open arms.
(http://www.gomoabeachestates.com/html/f … faq_indx=3)

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#9 2016-09-21 10:14:18

larrybob
Eggcornista
Registered: 2007-12-26
Posts: 95

Re: 'plough their trade" for "ply their trade"

We haven’t had many examples of eggcorns of “ply with” – to supply with, as fuel to a fire or alcohol to a sailor.
Perhaps a person, plyed with enough of a substance, gets ploughed.

What made me think of it was running across the first example below, which seems to have a southern US context which might, like British English, might make ply and plough closer homonyms.

Mom and Dad are ploughing her with sugar.
(http://muthamagazine.com/2016/09/i-was- … ed-father/ )

They decided the best way to do this was to plough him with alcohol and let him drink himself to death.
(http://ireland-calling.com/mike-malloy/ )

He got so famous for this that audience members liked to plow him with alcohol, get him truly wasted to up the perfomitivity of his reading.
(http://jonathanmendelsohn.blogspot.com/ … ok-to.html )

I don’t think I need to plough her with alcohol to get information.
Google Books

We plowed them with alcohol in the great Welcome To Chicago tradition.
http://www.mk-magazine.com/diaryofadamn … 00014.html

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#10 2018-01-09 05:08:06

AdamVero
Eggcornista
From: Leeds, UK
Registered: 2007-09-04
Posts: 69
Website

Re: 'plough their trade" for "ply their trade"

Just spotted a case of this today and first thought was to come and check if it was here.
Oddly “plough” gets no hits when searching the main part of the eggcorns site, so it would appear to not be in the database. Glad I also searched the forum before making a new submission.

I wonder if this is somewhere between an eggcorn and a mixed metaphor / mixed idiom.
Is there some overlap between “plough his own furrow” and “ply his trade” in some people’s minds? Enough to cause the confusion?
I see significant difference in meaning or at least in implied meaning – I take the first to mean doing something your own way, possibly contrary to popular or common practice or opinion, rather than just to do a job / activity.


Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day; teach a man to fish and he will buy a ridiculous hat – Scott Adams (author of Dilbert)
Build a man a fire and he will be warm for a day; set a man on fire and he will be warm for the rest of his life – Terry Pratchett
http://blog.meteorit.co.uk

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#11 2018-01-09 08:45:04

Dixon Wragg
Eggcornista
From: Cotati, California
Registered: 2008-07-04
Posts: 1313

Re: 'plough their trade" for "ply their trade"

AdamVero wrote:

Oddly “plough” gets no hits when searching the main part of the eggcorns site, so it would appear to not be in the database. Glad I also searched the forum before making a new submission.

FWIW, I never use that first search field, always the second one, which will display hits from both the Database and the Forum.

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#12 2018-01-15 11:09:56

kem
Eggcornista
From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2632

Re: 'plough their trade" for "ply their trade"

Glad I also searched the forum before making a new submission.

Always a good idea. There are 5 times as many eggcorn candidates in the Forum as in Database.


Hatching new language, one eggcorn at a time.

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