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Chris -- 2018-04-11

#1 2010-02-23 12:57:41

From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2748

amnesty, enmity, amity, animosity

A photograph with an English spelling error has been making the rounds of the web’s funny pictures sites. A woman at some kind of political demonstration holds up a sign that says “No Amnety.” Next to her a child displays a poster that says “Honk for English.” A source that seems to be authoritative says that the picture was first published in an Indiana newspaper in 2006. The humor of the picture apparently lies in the juxtaposition of an English spelling failure with a belief in the supremacy of English.

Could “amnety” for “amnesty” be more than a simple issue of spelling? That is, could semantics have influenced what appears on the poster? The confusion I’m thinking about lies in a cluster of words that has bemired more than one pilgrim slogging the swamps of English. These words are “enmity,” “amnesty,” “animosity,” and “amity.”

These four words arrived in English from three different sources (“Enmity” and “amity” share a history, both tracing back to permutations of amicus, the Latin word for “friend.”). Three of the words are persistent challenges the tongues and memories of English speakers: “amnesty,” because of the English “mn” hangup, often comes out as amesty; “animosity” occasionally shortens to amosity; “enmity” is often pronounced as though it were spelled “emnity” in the United States (This is the pronunciation I learned as a child. See other confessions of this pronunciation error here and here ). Only “amity,” arguably the rarest of the four words, slides easily from tongue to page.

The sign holder’s misspelling is hardly a one-off. The web has thousands of examples of “amnety” and “amnity” in contexts that require “amnesty.” Some of these exchanges are probably a result of tugging by the English “-ity” ending, which is used to indicate “state of,” as in the words “community” and “majority.” Amnesty is a legal state and could attract such a suffix. Once the “-ity” suffix dislodges the correct spelling, further impetus may come from either “amity,” which shares semantic space with “amnesty” (Granting amnesty leads to amity.) or “EM-nuh-tee,” which shares DNA with “amnesty” (A state of enmity is usually a prerequisite for a state of amnesty).

Hatching new language, one eggcorn at a time.



#2 2010-02-23 14:02:18

From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-11
Posts: 2409

Re: amnesty, enmity, amity, animosity

Damnity fits in there somewhere as well. Fun bunch of words.

*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 .)



#3 2010-02-23 14:44:00

David Bird
From: Montréal, QC
Registered: 2009-07-28
Posts: 1654

Re: amnesty, enmity, amity, animosity

Lots of “armnesty” being granted, too, which is nice mind-bender. How about…

Yes, the story is ridiculous, I admit, but the classic noir “Double Indenmity” has also a very far-fetched story that would easily match that of this film. … B00005V4XV



#4 2019-11-01 07:03:50

Peter Forster
From: UK
Registered: 2006-09-06
Posts: 1074

Re: amnesty, enmity, amity, animosity

It’s armnesty that brought me here only to find the usual DB spoor where I was about to plant my size 11. Amundsen to my Scott. So just out of interest I’ll mention that some of our TV presenters are stretching that initial vowel and in this largely arhotic land they do seem to be emphasising weaponry rather than forgetfulness.

ARMNESTY: Armed robbers, hoodlums should also be granted, Ijaw leader insists

So, have an armnesty. Recall all automatic and semi-automatic rifles in private ownwership. Melt them down. NONE of you need them.

On the other hand, the notion of giving succour to the needy may play some part.

... the National Assembly Standing Committee decided to grant almnesty to prisoners who have actually tried to progressively reform themselves during their ...

According to him, “however, if Almnesty feels strongly against the position of the Nigerian people on these issues and wants to assist the victims, they could …



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