Discussions about eggcorns and related topics
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Chris -- 2011-03-08
There was a time when someone graduating from a university would probably have had an exact sense of the (admittedly not huge) difference between Latin “alma” and “alumna.” (“Almus” means “nurturing, fostering, bounteous”; “alumnus” means “a nursling; a foster-child.”) In these latter days, without a classical language requirement for graduation, the confusion in “alumna mater” is of course understandable—both words are going to end up being used in the same context. “Alma martyr” is a bit more malapropic, but also more entertaining. Both “alma” and “alumna” appear to go back to Latin “alere,” “to nourish,” so I’ll put this down here in Slips. Examples:
My alumna mater, the gorgeous Pacific Lutheran University, began a program called Wild Hope, based on the aforementioned poem by Mary Oliver.
http://ljwmerge.blogspot.com/2009/10/ca … t-one.html
Upon completion in
December, I will receive 7 graduate credits from my alumna mater, Miami University, that can be counted towards the University’s new Global Field Program Master’s Degree which I am planning on applying to come fall.
http://lensc.blogspot.com/2008/09/miss- … elize.html
Just a quick note of background. I am an SIU alumna with a son about to graduate from my alumna mater too.
http://thesouthern.com/sports/article_e … 6768e.html
He is a disgrace to his Alma Martyr, the Naval Academy, and to all submariners everywhere.
http://ecraigsworld.blogspot.com/2008/0 … -know.html
[The writer is referring to a bong-hitting Jimmy Carter.]
He was now a professor of Anthropology at his alma martyr, Pine Valley University.
http://pinevalleybulletin.com/Features/ … money.html
[Pine Valley is a fictional suburb of Pittsburgh on the soap opera All My Children.]
You have got to give up to my Alma martyr, the Old Dominion Monarchs for 16 straight CAA tournament Wins.
Last edited by patschwieterman (2010-03-11 10:11:32)
A classic example of the eggcorning of a foreign language term.
I’m wondering if “alma martyr” might be a spellchecker change from a mistyped “alma marter”.
Interesting: I had always assumed the alma in alma mater was the same as the Spanish alma ‘soul’. I read now that Sp. alma is the phonologically altered descendant of anima ‘spirit’ (which also exists in Spanish—one of many pairs of erudite/vulgar Latin words).
Bruce’s suggestion of a spell-checker change is reasonable, but surely marter as a mistyping for mater is not likely to be very common? (Though r and t are adjacent on the qwerty keyboard.)
we would be too simple-minded to understand it* .
“Alumna mater” is a really good eggcorn and not a slip at all. I too thought that alma referred to the soul. The connection to “alumna” is classic. All the users were women in your examples.
If someone else made the connection of alma to soul, then alma martyr may start to be consistent in some way.