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Chris -- 2011-03-08

#1 2014-03-18 16:10:56

From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2211

accurate or true?

In Alastair MacCloud’s prize-winning Canadian novel, No Great Mischief, a bilingual (Gaelic and English) brother and sister discuss the massacre at Glencoe, Scotland, in the late 1600s. The word “Glencoe,” the sister points out, means “dog (Gaelic ) glen.” The brother recalls that Macaulay had said “Glencoe” meant “glen of weeping.” Macaulay, the sister says, probably “made it up after the event.” He was “one of those people who went through history picking and choosing and embellishing.” She concludes: “I guess when you look at it now, one meaning can be true and the other meaning accurate.”

MacCloud’s line nails one aspect of eggcorns. Good eggcorns, though they are orthographically/semantically/etymologically inaccurate, often carry more truth than the acorn they replace.

[Both meanings of “Glencoe,” by the way, may be wrong. The town is, in all probability, named after the River Coe that runs through it. “Coe” may ultimately be a tribal or personal name. … s/glen-coe ]



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