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Chris -- 2018-04-11

#1 2011-08-08 02:44:50

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

"lost-lost" for "long-lost"

I first spotted this last week when I was reading a review of a Palace Brothers album on

On There Is No-One What Will Take Care of You, Oldham sounds like a lost-lost cousin of the Louvin Brothers who, after ending up on skid row, is equally convinced that Satan is real, since he smells his foul breath every waking moment of his life. … 353/review

I thought that it was probably a simple anticipatory WTF typo for “long-lost” – the fact that both words in the standard phrase start with “lo” is just the kind of environment that encourages anticipation errors. And I’m still not sure that that isn’t the case. The thing is, though, that this is really common. And weirdly enough, it seems to turn up disproportionately often in reviews of books and albums, suggesting that it may be being passed hand to hand at this point. The first citation below, for instance, is from a review by well-known reviewer Boyd Tonkin in the UK Independent newspaper. And the second is from a newspaper headline for a story that’s current right now – and editors that are reprinting the story all over the world are letting “lost-lost” stand in the headline. Could this be perceived as a “reduplicative emphatic” by English speakers? Examples:

There the lost-lost brother works in a bank. … 45759.html

Quincy family welcomes lost-lost relative … _relative/

However, there’s a ridiculous plot twist with a stereotypically feisty and outspoken elderly character turning into a lost-lost relative that was just plain stupid and unnecessary. … love-story

Yet a chance meeting with Hugh’s lost-lost sister may change everything.

looking for a lost, lost relative



#2 2011-08-08 07:48:52

From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-11
Posts: 2154

Re: "lost-lost" for "long-lost"

I think we’ve demonstrated empirically that any of a wide range of errors (anticipation like this, typos of various sorts, accidental blends of synonymous expressions) can accidentally produce something that makes sense, and, if it then becomes standard for somebody, will be an eggcorn.

Very nice example.

*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 .)



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