Discussions about eggcorns and related topics
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Chris -- 2011-03-08
From a student paper: “Maybe they are just senile or have oldtimer’s.”
Easier to spell than Alzheimer’s.
Already in the Database: http://eggcorns.lascribe.net/english/337/old-timers/
Many of those who comment on it there consider it a deliberate pun rather than a true eggcorn.
I’ve seen it in student papers, and I’ve also heard students say it. I think it’s an honest mistake. It’s way more understandably descriptive than Alzheimer’s, after all. I think it’s a real eggcorn.
I couldn’t find it in the database; maybe I used the wrong search technique. Anyway, given the level of sophistication of the student who submitted the paper where I found it, I’d say it’s a true eggcorn.
I included the address for the Database entry in my first response—if you click on http://eggcorns.lascribe.net/english/337/old-timers/
you should be taken right to it.
I think it’s possible that this is spreading as an eggcorn—if so, it may be like “a mere bag of shells.” Jackie Gleason made the latter popular when it was used as a joke (for “a mere bagatelle”) on the Honeymooners back in the 50s. But I suspect there are now people out there who use “a mere bag of shells” without realizing its origin.
I really doubt Old Timer’s started as a true eggcorn—the phonological differences between the two phrases set off my alarm bells. And it’s far easier to find people on the internet who are talking about the eggcorn rather than committing it. But I’m willing to believe it’s possible that the joke has become so widespread that some people are unaware of any other name for the disease. I’m not sure—but it’s possible.
There are many hits for Oldsheimers. Some of these will be intentional, too, but these partial transformations seem more credible than Oldtimer’s. Oldsheimers is a demi-Lehmann’s term. Related to a Wisenheimer, maybe.
An alternative that makes the old explicit: