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Chris -- 2018-04-11

#1 2018-06-18 22:47:43

Dixon Wragg
From: Cotati, California
Registered: 2008-07-04
Posts: 1283

Concise eggcorn definition?

It looks like I’ll be taking on some administration duties for the Facebook group Eggcorn Hunt Club. The admin there has been frustrated with people posting lots of plain old misspellings and such, so I volunteered to “clean up Dodge City”. I need to start by posting there a concise definition of eggcorns that the participants can read in order to know what’s acceptable there versus what’s off-topic. Can someone here direct me to a good, concise, not-too-technical definition of eggcorns? Similar clear concise definitions of related things like malaprops would be helpful too. Thanks in advance for any responses.



#2 2018-06-19 16:39:29

From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-11
Posts: 2158

Re: Concise eggcorn definition?

An eggcorn is a malapropism that makes sense.
(This assumes a definition of malapropism that would be something like “using the wrong word/phrase/etc., without realizing it is wrong, because it sounds a lot like the right one.” In an eggcorn you have another reason, besides the similar sound, to think you are saying it right, even though you aren’t.)
Of course, what is “right” is defined by what the majority (including those from the past) have or had in mind. If an eggcorn (or any other kind of malapropism) becomes widely standard, it ceases to be so clearly “wrong” and starts to be the (or at least a) right way to speak.
Also, perverse people like us may say something we know is “wrong” because it strikes our funny-bone or for some other reason, and make it as standard as we can. (If I say “verse vise-a” enough times, at least my children might learn to say it that way.) Again, if we were to really succeed, it would destroy the fun and become prosaically “right”.
And, of course, the definition will be (and should be) adapted for eggcorns and malapropisms that arise from written (or signed or whatever) language rather than spoken language.

Last edited by DavidTuggy (2018-06-19 17:33:50)

*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 2018-06-22 00:46:03

From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2616

Re: Concise eggcorn definition?

The full definition from my book on eggcorns:

Eggcorns are substitutions, nonstandard but firmly established within a restricted language community, for similar-sounding or similar-looking words/phrases. These substitutions offer new and plausible meanings for the words/phrases that are replaced.

Certain words and phrases fit this definition, however, that belong to other categories. So I added five caveats:

-except when the substitutions are mondegreens that arise from misheard or misremembered song lyrics, song/book titles, liturgical set pieces, and poems,
-except when the substitutions are folk etymologies that have become so common that they have replaced, or almost replaced, the words and phrases for which they are substituted,
-except when the substitution are puns that are not part of the speaker/writer’s standard vocabulary,
-except when the substituted words are proper and personal names that would not normally occur in a dictionary, and
-except when the substitutions are stealth substitutions that involve no changes in sound or spelling.

Hatching new language, one eggcorn at a time.



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