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Chris -- 2018-04-11

#1 2019-11-25 10:37:08

From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2719

sempeternal << sempiternal

The Merriam-Webster Word of the day flags (without knowing it) an eggcorn:

Despite their similarities, sempiternal and eternal come from different roots. Sempiternal is derived from the Late Latin sempiternalis and ultimately from semper, Latin for “always….” Eternal, on the other hand, is derived, by way of Middle French and Middle English, from the Late Latin aeternalis and ultimately from aevum, Latin for “age” or “eternity.” Sempiternal is much less common than eternal, but some writers have found it useful. 19th-century American writer Ralph Waldo Emerson, for example, wrote, “The one thing which we seek with insatiable desire is to forget ourselves, … to lose our sempiternal memory, and to do something without knowing how or why….”

One suspects that “sempeternal,” which can be found with some frequency on the web, is spelling perturbed by meaning, an eyecorn.

Here’s a chap who makes this mistake in a subsidy-published book of poetry.

Hatching new language, one eggcorn at a time.



#2 2019-11-27 03:15:40

From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-11
Posts: 2351

Re: sempeternal << sempiternal

I learned the Spanish version of this word (sempiterno) as a child, and I reasoned that it was from siempre ‘always’ (< Latin semper , thus etymologically correct) + eterno ‘eternal’. Spanish sometimes changes the vowel linking the two stems of a compound into an i , as e.g. in pelirrojo < pelo ‘hair’ + rojo ‘red’ = ‘red-haired’, and (I think) I figured that was what happened here.
So did I recreate the Latin derivation of sempiternalis (i.e. does the second half of that word come from aeternum ?), or achieve an eggcorn similar to the one Kem suggests, or what?

*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 2019-11-27 23:09:42

From: Ohio
Registered: 2007-06-07
Posts: 225

Re: sempeternal << sempiternal says that it does, David. Merriam-Webster seems to be trying to ignore the last two syllables of the word, which doesn’t make them look good.

“I always wanted to be somebody. I should have been more specific.” – Lily Tomlin



#4 2019-11-28 06:17:38

Peter Forster
From: UK
Registered: 2006-09-06
Posts: 1051

Re: sempeternal << sempiternal

Adopting a sideways approach, it could assume an earcorn guise providing we read paternal as something benevolent and enduring rather than pejorative.

Those producing, distributing, and broadcasting programs today are not likely to share the samepaternal goals for audiences as their predecessors.

... or maybe in a space with no time, in an after life, we can feel the love we had the first week of us being together, and I hope that the feeling is sempaternal.

I have my bangs swept over to the side, and my hair is black, naturally straight. i have my septum pierced and i have a tattoo of the sempaternal flower on my wrist.



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