Discussions about eggcorns and related topics
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Chris -- 2011-03-08
For those who like their eggcorns well aged in casks of finest classical wood, sip the word “satire.” It derives from a Latin term for a type of poem that exposed human folly. The Latin poetry term is adapted, if the OED is correct, from the word “satura,” which was a dish composed of many different ingredients.
The term “satire” has often been sourced to “satyr,” the shy and slightly menacing companions of Bacchus in his woodland revels. Satyrs, sometimes pictured like Pan as part goat, made up the chorus in the Greek “satyr play,” a short burlesque performed as comic relief at Greek dramas.
Just what satyrs have to do with satire is not clear. Perhaps it is the buffoonery of the satyr play that reminded viewers of satire. At any rate, the word “satyr” has been substituted for “satire” and used in “satir-“ compounds for hundreds of years. The confusion was so widespread that “satyrical” was a fairly common spelling of “satirical” before the stabilization of English spelling. Even today the word “satyrical” on a web page is more likely to be an eggcorn of “satirical” than to mean, as it should, “of or relating to satyrs.”
Some examples of the misused adjective “satyrical”:
: “George Dalaras performs a different, satyrical, edition of the rebetiko song of “Tis Amynis ta paidia”, composed by Stavros Xarhakos”
: “If yall are interested in another satyrical look at Barack Obama check out this episode”
: “a satyrical look at our eating habits in our fast paced lifestyles”
: “Molly Norris, former cartoonist for the Seattle Weekly, has become the target of a death threat because of a satyrical piece ….”
Even the noun “satire” dances with the occasional faun:
: “You can’t do a satyr and be taken seriously. He’s supposed to be doing a satyr of the films from the 70?s and that doesn’t work for me. ”
: “The dance was started as a satyr of the late regime of Congolese president L.D. Kabilla”
: “It just so happens that this idea comes right out of Judge Dredd, a comic known for social satyr.”