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Chris -- 2018-04-11

#1 2013-12-21 18:58:58

From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2598

neck jerk << knee jerk

Peter Forster, long time contributor to this forum, tells me via email that he has had trouble using the Forum this year—his ISP has been blocking access. A real loss. His posts are always interesting.

He passed along to me in the message an eggcorn that he had found. I’m reporting it here for him. The eggcorn is “neck jerk reaction” for “knee-jerk reaction.” The eggcorn in some ways improves on the acorn—Jerking the neck around seems more realistic spontaneous reaction to an event than Jerking the knee (though presumably the knee that gets jerked in the idiom is responding to a hammer tap, not an event).

The web has a number of examples of this switch. Three of them:

Thread on U. S. politics: “I don’t blame you for your neck jerk reaction thought, its always easier to slander a person rather engage them in intellectual conversation.”

U.K. current event thread: “It does seem to be a bit of a neck jerk reaction.”

Blog entry: “if the websites’ designers had taken more time to decide on their next move, instead of providing a seemingly neck-jerk reaction to the movement, more convincing arguments could have been put forth.”

Last edited by kem (2013-12-21 19:03:36)

Hatching new language, one eggcorn at a time.



#2 2013-12-21 21:12:33

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

Re: neck jerk << knee jerk

Perhaps a bit of anticipatory coda (final consonant) pronunciation to help this one along? (It really doesn’t sound all that much like knee jerk . I agree that it makes more generally applicable sense: most events are not much like a hammer-tap on the patellar tendon. A major point of the old metaphor was that the reaction is uncontrollable; even if you try to you cannot stop it. With the new metaphor the sudden grabbing of one’s attention seems more in focus.)

Last edited by DavidTuggy (2013-12-21 21:14:53)

*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 2013-12-22 10:35:26

From: Montreal
Registered: 2008-03-17
Posts: 1101

Re: neck jerk << knee jerk

Our Peterian blood supply is cut off? That explains my wooziness. In that fog, I faintly make out a parallel between neck jerk « knee jerk, and yesterday’s wreck havoc « wreak havoc. Other truffles must be nearby. A need jerk reaction gets rid of the knee and goes straight to the need. Like my irresistible need-jerk reaction for chocolate.

Two good things about the low carb diet is this: number one, you don’t have the mental sacrifice or anguish of other diets because with a low carb diet you can eat a large amount of fats and proteins. So you don’t have that immediate need jerk reaction saying I can’t have any chocolate so you immediately begin eating chocolate.
diet site

Ive actually tried to get away from exclusively using shield barrier but I think hitting it first is just a need jerk reaction because it comes up first

I think the running for him is a need jerk reaction he has relied on for a good decade. hard habit to break.
TV fan site

My take is that there was some kind of violent need-jerk reaction to what happened during the Emergency.
India news comment

A more scholarly approach to mayhem is to read havoc upon the world. Like seeing chaos in the tea leaves. Or leaving a crimson autograph.

A clogged head or a broken line can read havoc on your landscape and water bill.
Sprinkler Man

someone who who doesn’t like you could level an alt to 50 on a few hours nowadays and read havoc on the clan.
Celtic gamers

With the dry air and all this time of year, just beware of static electricity which can read havoc on memory
Computer users

In my memory of the storm, all I read is havoc.



#4 2013-12-22 11:40:03

From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2598

Re: neck jerk << knee jerk

Agree with David T that “neck jerk” is a bit of a stretch, phonetically.

Need-jerk. A clever reimaging in this one. A knee jerk reaction is an immediate, unthinking response. A need jerk reaction is a response that you sink into and need to be extricated from by some outside force. Both are involuntary states, both are places you don’t want to be.

Hatching new language, one eggcorn at a time.



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