Discussions about eggcorns and related topics
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Chris -- 2011-03-08
Consider this strawman example:
Google hits on Sept 12, 2006
“Clairvoyant” means having an extrasensory ability to see things not present or to predict the future. The base “clair” is French from the Latin “clarus” meaning “clear.” So, there really isn’t any major departure from the etymology when one constructs “CLEARvoyant.” And, so, should we consider “Clearvoyant” an eggcorn?
My gut instinct is that “CLEARvoyant” and other such-constructed words are not an eggcorns. (Another recent example is “QUARRELous” which shares a common etymological base with “Querelous.”) In some of these constructions, the language seemed to have morphed from Latin to French (or another Romance language) and stayed put until a recent (albeit unknowing) attempt to drag in the English equivalent. And, since we are dealing strictly in terms of linguistic equivalents, there doesn’t seem to be any FRESH IMAGERY (or contextual reinterpretation) taking place. So, again, I think these constructs lack what is required to qualify as eggcorns.
Now having said that, I’ll be the first to admit that this is simply my own opinion. I sure wish a linguistics expert would chime in on this issue and clarify things.
Non-Expert Speaks: I was another voice in that QUERULOUS discussion. I agree with you, and with your reasoning that CLAIRVOYANT/CLEARVOYANT is a mistake that does not merit eggcorn status. It is different from QUERULOUS/QUARRELOUS, though:
Both the CLAIR and the VOYANT are French, I believe. But the QUERUL is old-timely Latin-based English, and it has a perfectly valid, current English suffix, OUS. So… QUARRELOUS (in my peculiar ear) is an okay (not fantastic, but okay) update for QUERULOUS, but… CLEARVOYANT is just a misunderstanding of a good,current word that we borrowed from France.
[This post showed up with unwanted cross-outs. Where do those cross-outs come from? If you see words crossed out above, please read the words. This is a big STET.]
Last edited by Tom Neely (2006-09-13 19:05:00)
Tom—about those cross-outs:
The Forum uses the Textile markup language (basically a series of HTML shortcuts), and sometimes you can give commands in Textile without meaning to. I suspect that your earlier version of the post had dashes around chunks of text. Textile interprets dashes immediately around a word as the command for “cross out these words.” For instance, if I write, – cross out – with a space between the words and the dashes, it’ll show up as just – cross out -. But if I get rid of the spaces between the dashes and the words, it’ll look like this:
cross out. The cross-out command can occasionally be helpful – if for instance you want to show something you “almost” wrote.
There’s a concise discussion of Textile commands with examples here: http://textism.com/tools/textile/
It’s worth looking at because it also shows how to produce italics, underlining, block quotations, etc.