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Chris -- 2018-04-11

#1 2005-10-26 09:39:52

From: Winchester Massachusetts
Registered: 2005-10-25
Posts: 674

'sylphilis' for 'syphilis'

A sylph is a slender graceful woman, so this substitution may just be an eggcornish way of blaming women for venereal disease. Examples:

I’m not sure Of The statistics nowadays, but for a long time Baltimore was tops
In sylphilis and teen pregnancies.

Okay, some spontaneity is lost but it is nothing compared to getting herpes,
sylphilis, the clap, genital warts, or HIV.

Arsenic 11. This compound was shown in 1910 to be extraordinarily effective against sylphilis, which is bacterial, and some other infectious diseases such as yaws …

... a shame they have left us now, they’ll be missed, just like the plague, Hitler, that rash I had last week and and the sylphilis I had the week before!



#2 2005-10-26 20:01:45

Chris Waigl
Eggcorn Faerie
From: London, UK
Registered: 2005-10-14
Posts: 115

Re: 'sylphilis' for 'syphilis'

This is a typical example of a potential eggcorn that leaves me skeptical. There are two reasons for this:

  1. “Syphilis” is misspelled in numerous ways. Two “l”s or one? Where to put the “y” and how many of them are there anyway? So “sylphilis” will crop up occasionally, along with many others.
  2. There are only about 11 genuine, English hits on Google, as of today. It doesn’t look as if this misspelling was more frequent than others.
  3. “Sylph” is not precisely a very common word. My rule of thumb for eggcorns vs. malapropisms or simple slip-ups is to ask myself: “Is a complicated word being replaced with a simpler, more common one?” In the case at hand, both “syphilis” and “sylph” are specialized terms.
  1. There might be phonetic reasons for the duplication of the l to occur in an unfamiliar, rarely used word.

    So yes, for people who know what a sylph is, the variant spelling is worth a chuckle. But were the “sylphilis” users actually aware of the sense of sylph?



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