Discussions about eggcorns and related topics
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Chris -- 2011-03-08
David T writes
Would there be an easy way to set up a sort of glossary, Pat, with SNOT and other local jargon or catch-phrases (pail, silicism, Annie Lehmann, etc.) explained and linked, for easy reference for those new to the forum and for those of us who sometimes forget?
I been thinking about something a bit broader. Perhaps we could set up a thread that would serve as a FAQ for this list and, in order to keep the FAQ thread clean, another thread to hold discussions about the FAQ. Each post would begin with a question (first one: What is an eggcorn?) and continue with a response. Some of the housekeeping posts we have formulated in response to earlier questions could be copied over to the FAQ and edited. We could parcel out the various FAQ questions to the regulars for the initial writeup, posted on the discussion thread for comments, then moved over to the FAQ when the discussion dies down.
Some other questions that might be covered:
Has my eggcorn been discussed here before [stuff about search engines]
How do I post an eggcorn? [different categories, starting threads]
Are there standards for posts to this forum?[stress documentation, explain diff between eggcorn and slip]
Is it an eggcorn if only one person says it?
How do I search for eggcorns [stuff on Google reliability, etc]
Why do I have to register to post an eggcorn?
When will my eggcorn appear in the database?
What are the best eggcorns? [pointers to end of year lists, stats, etc]
What makes one eggcorn better than another?
Are there categories of eggcorns? [some of the terminology here that David mentions]
What web resources are available to help search for eggcorns?
How do I format my posts?
What is an Eggcornista?
The obvious advantage of such a list would be that we could point the newcomers to this thread without having issue the same explanations for each person working their way up the involvement ladder.
We’ve occasionally talked about this before, but I agree that our inventory of shibboleths is getting to the point that we may now need more urgently to deopaque them for the cheechakos.
One of the things I like about the psychology of FAQ lists is that they often catalogue the questions oldtimers WISH the newcomers would ask more frequently, rather than the ones they do ask. But Kem’s list does a good job of splitting the difference between those two categories.
The questions newcomers ask on the forum tend to be rather polite—we have their email addresses, after all. But if you look at the comments to the articles in the Database (where registration wasn’t required), you see a lot of ruder comments/questions that might also be worth heading off at the past.
Some other possibilities:
Aren’t “eggcorns” just misspellings or typos?
Are you guys really doing anyone a favor by acting like ignorant misuse of the language is worth taking note of?
Isn’t there already a name for these—“mondegreens”?
Aren’t most eggcorns just puns?
What’s the difference between a malapropism and an eggcorn? (Which may be our most frequently asked question.)
I already tried to search for that word in the search engine—why didn’t it come up? (We need to bring together all the answers regulars have written up for that, and then piece together the best comprehensive answer.)
I followed the directions for posting an eggcorn in the Database—why didn’t it publish?
Is there a way I can send someone on the forum an email? (Maybe not all of you want that one answered….)
How do you show where you live?
Do you have to show quotations when you post?
As for David’s original question—if you’re asking about setting up another page (parallel to the Contribute, Slips, etc. pages), yes, that is possible—I’ve run across the directions for doing it. I’m not sure whether there are any scary interactions; I’d prefer to have Chris do any restructuring since I really don’t have a clue about such stuff. I think a good discussion to have right now would be whether we need any new pages, and if so what. It might be good to be able to separate malaprops from the other kinds of things that show up on “Slips.” Maybe “Wordplay” or something like that deserves its own page.
I guess we’ll have to have some bouts of consensus building about what terminology gets highlighted in a forum lexicon. The publishing of an “official” list might seem to set some things in stone—and maybe not everyone wants to see them all made permanent and pushed into wider circulation. While I’m terribly honored to have been nominated for the 2009 Snot Award, I find the name—how do I say this?—kinda gross. (And I don’t mean that as any kind of smear on Nottingham’s eponym—a wise man, indeed.) I’ve never been fully persuaded by Kem’s “Annie Lehmann,” which I consider problematic in its conflation of useful categories (I much prefer “Lehmann’s term”). And Arnold Zwicky’s “pail” has always seemed to me kinda pallid and unfortunate. It gets a little use around here, but little enough that it usually gets re-explained when it does appear. (I think his “flounder” is pure nomenclatural genius, however.)
In any case, maybe we should thrash out what we would like to see in such a lexicon.
Okay, I haven’t posted my 2009 Best Of yet because I’ve got two pressing back-to-back deadlines to beat. I’m being bad in posting this much. Bye….
Last edited by patschwieterman (2010-01-04 00:26:45)
The multiplicity of non-self-explanatory search engines has been a headache for a while, so in response to the recent comments on this I’ve put together a quick intro to the engines.
But there are many ways of doing this, and I’m not sure the discursive approach I’ve used below is the best one. We could also break the intro into 2 parts, with a quick overview and then the discursive, more thorough discussion. Or we could do something else altogether. In any case, I’ve posted my rough draft below, and why don’t you guys point out omissions, unfortunate inclusions, errors, or alternate ways of approaching the problem—including your own rough drafts, if you’re so inclined.
The search engine FAQ
We have three search engines on this site. Two are in the upper part of the right-hand column on the Eggcorn Database homepage ( http://eggcorns.lascribe.net/ ). The third one is at the top of all Eggcorn Forum pages ( http://eggcorns.lascribe.net/forum/search.php ).
The Eggcorn Database Search Engine
The first search engine in the upper right-hand corner of the Eggcorn Database homepage is simply labeled “Search,” and it supposedly searches for all articles that have already been entered into the Eggcorn Database itself. It’s quirky, however, and while you usually get what you’re looking for, sometimes you don’t, and sometimes your target article comes up in the company of a bunch of other ones you have to scroll through. To find Database articles, I usually just jump to the “Browse eggcorns” link which is just a short ways above the homepage “Search” button.
The Google Search Engine
This is directly beneath the “Search” button in the upper right-hand corner of the Eggcorn Database homepage, and it’s labeled “Google Search.”
It searches the entire site, including everything associated with both the Database and the Forum. It’s the most comprehensive and least buggy of our three search engines. If you want to do a multi-word search for something like “part for the course,” this is the search engine to use. And since it’s a Google-powered engine, you can use Google syntax—such as putting double quotes around those multi-word phrases, or putting a minus sign in front of terms you wish to exclude. This engine also offers the easiest way to search the earlier version of the Forum, which was supplanted by this forum in October, 2005; the posts are still up, but you can’t get to them through the Search button on the Forum pages.
The Forum Search Engine
If you go to the top of the Eggcorn Forum homepage ( http://eggcorns.lascribe.net/forum/ ) – or to the top of any of the pages associated with the forum – you’ll see a list of 8 links, starting with “Eggcorn Database.” The fifth link in the row is “Search” (also here: http://eggcorns.lascribe.net/forum/search.php ), and that is the search engine for the Forum. It searches all the pages associated with the Forum, including “News and announcements,” “Contribute,” “Eggcornology,” “Slips, etc.,” and “Soapbox.” It’s very useful for finding Forum posts, but it doesn’t search the Database or the other pages associated with it. Be aware that it’s also quirky, and doesn’t like long, multi-word queries; it’ll usually give you what you want, but your target posts will often be buried in many “false positives” that you have to sift through. On the other hand, it has a bunch of other features the other engines don’t have; for instance, you can search for a post by author, or you can restrict the search to a certain forum page.
Last edited by patschwieterman (2010-02-27 08:16:55)
Well roared, lion.
The only addition I might suggest is to point out that the Google search box is the equivalent of adding “site:eggcorns.lascribe.net” to any general Google search, so all the Google search syntax (such as using quotes for exact searches and using the minus sign to exclude entries with certain words) applies.
Looks great, Pat. I learned something myself: what the upper search bar on the Database page is for. I think the writeup indicates sufficiently that there are ghosts and unreachable passageways on this site. Take “overton window”. If this phrase is entered on the Google search bar on the Database page, it suggests that somewhere on certain pages the overton window can be found, next to viggo mortenson. Danged if I can actually find that pair on any of the links that come up.
All of the regulars have experienced the vagaries of the search engine—returning hits that won’t display is the main one. But FAQ info should focus, shouldn’t it, to the kind of questions a newcomer might ask in working his/her way up the Eggcornista ladder?
I’ve rewritten the FAQ a bit to make it easier to jump right to the most likely-sounding search engine without reading through everything. And I’ve tried to incorporate Kem’s comment about Google syntax.
I didn’t say anything more about the ghosts and dead alleys in the search engines—I’m already mentioning so many problems that I’m afraid I’ll scare off the newbies.
That “overton window” thing is darn freaky—I noticed that offsite Google returns plenty of hits for the combo of “overton window,” “Viggo Mortensen,” and those Flogging Molly lyrics. I don’t have a clue what’s going on there.
I’ll keep the rough draft of the FAQ up for a few more days to see if there are any more comments.
Last edited by patschwieterman (2010-02-27 08:25:04)
I think what would be most useful to me would be to have a gizmo calling the Google search available on every forum page (if not every page on the whole site). It’s the one I use almost exclusively. It seems that would (a) make possible a simpler answer on the FAQ page, and more importantly (b) lessen the hassles of searching (meaning that people would need to check the FAQ on this topic less often).
*If the human mind were simple enough for us to understand,
we would be too simple-minded to understand it* .
David T—I agree completely that an overhaul of the search engines would be the ideal solution. But since I doubt that’s going to happen soon, I’m hoping an FAQ will help out the newcomers in the meantime.
Last edited by patschwieterman (2010-02-27 19:54:25)