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#1 2010-08-25 00:07:51

kem
Eggcornista
From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2131

coax, coach, crouch << couch

“Couch,” derived from the Latin “collocare” (“con” + “locare,” to set together with), continues to be a popular English noun/adjective. The verb “to couch,” however, is not so popular. One of its meanings, the sense of concealing (e.g., “She couched herself in the woods to spy on passers-by.”), still puts in the odd appearance, but most of time the verb sleeps the torpid sleep of the nearly departed. With one major exception: English speakers still employ the idiom “couch X in terms of/as Y” with some frequency. The idiom describes a translation of ideas/intentions (X) into words (Y), as in the sentence “He couched his demands in polite phrases.”

The non-idiomatic form of the verb “couch” transforms itself into the Teutonic “crouch” in the vocabularies of some speakers. No surprise here–we often crouch to couch. It’s difficult, though, to cite a definitive example of this eggcorn. Those who say they crouch in the woods to spy may not be mangling “couch”–they may really be crouching. More spottable and more surprising is the replacement of “couch” with “crouch” in its idiomatic context (i.e., “to crouch X in terms of Y”). Here are three of the dozens of examples on the web:

Web forum comment: “The question to abrahamic theists was crouched in terms a theist would understand, and have their own definitions.”

Report on an education project: “Scientific understanding is crouched in terms of current explanation not a final, correct explanation.”

Workshop announcement from Durham University Institute of Advanced Study[not, I assume, for the advanced study of English idioms]: “What is the relation between conceptualisations of the human – whether crouched in terms of capacities for reasoned discourse or a susceptibility to being affected that follows from finite embodiment – and processes of dehumanisation? ”

The notion of “concealment behind” shared by “couch” and “crouch” serves as a bridge to make this slip an eggcorn, I think.

There are also several examples of “coax” inserting itself into the “couch” idiom:

Law school journal article: “While the English discretion is coaxed in terms of ‘fairness of the proceedings’, and the Canadian in terms of ‘the impact of admission on the administration of justice’, in applying the law, Canadian judges treat fairness to the accused as paramount”

Comment on a magazine article: “The cold war is over—the radical right follows no constitution but their own agenda (of course coaxed in terms of ‘our good, ‘our welfare’ etc) and have no ethical concern crushing anything that prevents that agenda’s fulfillment ”

Preface to web-published book: “Explanations for their origins are generally not coaxed in terms of specific events of natural history, but in terms of processes, patterns, relational structures that we may infer, or rather project, onto the patterning that we see.”

In scores of places on the web “coach” appears as a replacement for “couch” in the idiom “couch X in terms of Y.” Most of the examples I can find seem to be from sources whose authors may speak English as a second language:

Political essay: “Much of this discussion has been coached in terms of `modernism’ and `post-modernism’, ”

Political piece on Iranian web site: “At another level, the debate is often coached in terms of what is “correct” and what is “incorrect.””

Comment on a web forum: “The words the West, specifically, the Anglo-West uses are coached in terms of human rights, prosperity and freedom,”

Note that an earlier thread explored some of the eggcornish permutations of the noun “crouch.”

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#2 2010-08-25 13:11:22

David Bird
Eggcornista
From: Montréal, QC
Registered: 2009-07-28
Posts: 1178

Re: coax, coach, crouch << couch

Couch as concealing, that’s new to me. Was that part of the original sense of “couched in terms of”, which has now been lost?

Here are some surprisingly common simblings. It’s hard to imagine that these are mondegreens; the sound is too different. Visual eggcorns? Pat’s soft-tissue acid? Cached would also be concealed; cashed, translated, I think, or literally realized.

The other Luther rolls in grave
The Enlightenment has demanded that theology must ultimately be about the self within its concrete embeddedness, undergoing various existential and temporal trials and empowerments. Instead of referring to God, theological statements must finally be cached in terms of the horizon of human experience.

Intelligent design
You rarely address peoples arguments on their merits alone, your arguments are always cached in terms of your own presumed moral superiority

Political forum
Socialism: always cached in terms of the workers’ struggle against the elite.

What is intelligence?
this use is best cashed in terms of aptitude.

Last edited by David Bird (2010-08-25 13:13:21)

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#3 2010-08-25 17:44:51

kem
Eggcornista
From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2131

Re: coax, coach, crouch << couch

“Cached.” Hadn’t thought of that one. “Catch(ed) in terms of” also shows up. Almost seems like a Big Fuzzy Spot is coming into (going out of?) focus. The BFS would include “couch,” “cache,” “catch,” “coax” and “crouch.”

The OED details about 20 meanings for the verb “couch,” almost all of them obsolete or technical. The one I’m thinking about is “To lay in concealment (more or less); to hide, conceal; refl. and pass. to lie hidden, to lurk.” The OED marks it as archaic, but I think it may have more currency than “archaic” implies. Besides the reflexive I mentioned (“couched herself”), which I’m fairly certain I’ve heard/read in the wild, there is also the phrase “couched within” that seems to draw on the concealment sense of “couch.” COCA has ten citations for it, all since 1990.

My guess would be that “couch in terms of” either derives from or is influenced by the concealment sense of “couch.”

Last edited by kem (2010-12-18 21:17:39)

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#4 2010-08-26 13:35:39

David Bird
Eggcornista
From: Montréal, QC
Registered: 2009-07-28
Posts: 1178

Re: coax, coach, crouch << couch

Collocare to couch. Transcription misreading, ll to u?

Edit: Nice theory, but no. Collocare—> colcare—> colchier—> coucher, more or less.

Last edited by David Bird (2010-08-26 15:00:31)

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#5 2010-08-26 15:14:40

DavidTuggy
Eggcornista
From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-12
Posts: 1763
Website

Re: coax, coach, crouch << couch

l’s and w/u/o sounds have a history of interchanging; especially if the l is a ‘dark’ l like the one in my English. I often counsel Spanish speakers to use an unstressed o instead of an l to sound more natural—e.g. say [ˈɹuo] for rule. I remember one of my professors (Richard Rhodes) referring to a similar phonological process in Hungarian as a “Dewæterawization Ruo”.


*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 .)

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#6 2010-08-29 03:44:15

jorkel
Eggcornista
Registered: 2006-08-08
Posts: 1455

Re: coax, coach, crouch << couch

I have a particular liking for the eggcorn alteration of “A couched in terms of B” to “A coaxed in terms of B.” A first blush, a seemingly common word “couch” is being replaced by a less common word “coax”—which goes against the grain of most eggcorns—but in reality the “couch” intended is very different from the furniture sense. So, some who hear “couch” might be having trouble with the furniture imagery … enough for them to change it to “coax.”

Last edited by jorkel (2010-08-29 03:47:02)

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#7 2014-01-09 17:51:49

kem
Eggcornista
From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2131

Re: coax, coach, crouch << couch

In these earlier posts we missed the 800 pound elephant in the room. “Coax” often gets replaced with “coach.” We can see it most clearly in idiomatic phrases such as “be coaxed out of” and “be coaxed into.”

Tribute to a comedian: “Mike had a crazy natural comic timing that couldn’t be coached out of anyone else. It was just the way he was when you turned on the camera. ”

Article in The Spectator: “Like modern-day evacuees, the children would be coached out of cities to come and spend a week working alongside real farmers with animals and on the land.”

Dialog in a published novel : “It seems I’m to fire questions at the blighter along with the rest of you—and be coached into the bargain”

Quaker outreach statement: “Though there have already been some small mistakes in missiology, this young field can be coached into an effective church planting movement.”

Coax, by the way, has a curious history. Spelled both as “cokes” and “coax,” it once referred to a fool. In a poem written by pre-Shakespearian sonneteer Thomas Howell called “A Friendly Admonition to his Friend to Choose a Wife,” Howell observed:

He is a cokes, and worthy strokes, whose wife the Breeches beare.

“Coax” was verbed, quite naturally, as “making a fool of.” To this basic sense accreted the notion of being fond of,/making a pet of (terms of abuse often transform themselves into terms of endearment, as most of you numbnuts know). This second sense appears to have morphed into the idea of persuading people by using this kind of coddling behavior. Coaxing them.

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#8 2014-01-09 20:31:14

DavidTuggy
Eggcornista
From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-12
Posts: 1763
Website

Re: coax, coach, crouch << couch

I’m skeptical on this one. Be Ved out of and be Ved into (and generally be Ved Prep ) are very prolific constructions in English. There is a legitimate verb to coach , of course, and at least some of the examples you quote can be explained by that verb being used in those constructions. E.g. most of us would need to be coached (not so easily coaxed) into timing things effectively when before the camera, but Mike does it naturally. For the Quakers to be effective church planters they only need to be coached properly. For me to be forced to fire questions at the blighter is enough, but to have a coach forced on me besides (=“into the bargain”) is the outside of enough. The children being persuaded to come out of the cities is the only one where coach is the least bit uncomfortable in my mind, or where coax is as good or better.
.
I guess the difference is that coaching is giving advice the coachee is likely to be happy for and to heed, because he also wants to reach the goal the coach has in mind; whereas in coaxing the coaxee needs to be persuaded because he doesn’t (yet) really want to reach the goal the coaxer has in mind. They are indeed close, but that doesn’t mean one was substituted for the other anyplace the latter would have done.
.
Anyhow, on balance I need more convincing. I might be coaxed into it.


*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 .)

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#9 2014-01-09 21:20:03

kem
Eggcornista
From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2131

Re: coax, coach, crouch << couch

You are right, David, the majority of “coached into” and “coached out of” make perfect sense without invoking “coax.” Many instances of the phrases occur, in fact, in the context of sports reporting and sports metaphors and are best read with only coaching in mind. But the four examples I gave were contexts in which the intrusion of coaching seemed awkward enough to nudge the mind toward other explanations. Perhaps, on refection, the first one, the comedian example, is not as clean as the other three.

More examples. I find “coach X into” of the first three examples awkward. We generally “coach X to,” not “into.” In the fourth example below, a crowd is being “coached.” Usually people are coached as individuals—chances are the crowd is being coaxed. The next three examples have “coaching out of retirement.” Coaching in this case would be a metaphor, at best. It’s easier to think of this as enticing/coaxing out of retirement. In the last example, a cat is being encouraged to come out of a tree. Could literal coaching of an animal work in these circumstances? Chances are that the cat is being coaxed.

Post on cancer recovery: “It almost made me cry, everything I ate tasted like cardboard. My daughter had to coach me into chewing and eating my food, which I had to force down,” she said.”

Blog post: “Last week when showering and shaving, I thought I saw a varicose vein on my calf. I had to stop shaving. I had to get out of the shower and lay down. I had to call Natalie and ask her if I was going to die or if the vein was going to pop out of my leg. She had to coach me into looking at my leg again. I couldn’t find the varicose vein.”

Religious blog: “Ian and I decided to see if we could get some chips from El Rey, one of the Mexican restaurants downtown. Ian literally had to coach me into talking to these people sitting on the patio for about 10 minutes. Once I finally had the nerve to ask, I walked up to them and asked if we could have their leftover chips….which they so kindly handed over to me…all bug eyed.”

Online article: “North Dakota AFL-CIO President Dave Kemnitz coached the crowd into booing (‘I can’t hear you!’) as he read a list of ‘10 reasons why privatizing Social Security is the wrong answer”

School newspaper blog: “[He] has helped bring the I.S 228 team to victory since being coached out of retirement by the school’s principal, Dominick D’Angelo.”

Letter to the editor: “Yes, Bill Burton will be missed. I hope he can be coached out of retirement on occasion and share his experiences with us in the future.”

Harry Potter review: “Jim Broadbent as Horace Slughorn, a teacher coached out of retirement

Forum post: “Last night we went for a walk, and saw a cat stuck in a tree! My husband was able to coach the cat down, but it took a while!”

Last edited by kem (2014-01-09 23:25:51)

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#10 2014-01-09 21:53:51

DavidTuggy
Eggcornista
From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-12
Posts: 1763
Website

Re: coax, coach, crouch << couch

You’ve coached me into believing it.


*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 .)

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