Discussions about eggcorns and related topics
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Chris -- 2011-03-08
spotted in the wild – a junior designer at our place was a constant source of malapropisms and eggcorns.
Last edited by diskgrinder (2006-08-31 08:36:13)
Probably an idiom blend similar to “it’s not rocket surgery.” Not an eggcorn, a malapropism nor a snowclone.
A quote from the link:
Idiom Blending « Literal-Minded
The name is… idiom blend. Oh, well, great minds, you know. ... My favorite idiom blend was from the college drama club, combining “looking for fresh talent” ...
http://literalminded.wordpress.com/2004 … -blending/
“Of course, you could define the term malapropism to cover both kinds of situations, but I think the situation here happens often enough, and is different enough from the other kind of malapropism, to merit its own name. Justin Busch at Semantic Compositions ran across it back in January and was wondering if there was a name for it, having decided it was neither eggcorn nor snowclone. His example: It’s not rocket science + It’s not brain surgery = It’s not rocket surgery.”
Last edited by jorkel (2006-09-20 14:24:03)
I like Neal Whitman over at Literalminded very much—I admire anyone with a PhD in Linguistics who can talk about English usage in such a practical and useful way. But he (and Cutting and Bock) ruffle my feathers a bit when they try to say that “idiom blends” aren’t malapropisms. Here’s the OED’s definition of malapropism:
The ludicrous misuse of words, esp. in mistaking a word for another resembling it; an instance of this.
I think this okay as a definition, though I worry that it’s a bit “etymological.” The problem is that Whitman, Bock and Cutting are all seizing solely on the part of the definition that comes after “esp.”. That’s sorta understandable—linguists need to define things precisely. But “malapropism” is a very widely used word, and lots (I suspect MILLIONS) of English speakers use the word to mean something much more general: “a nonsensical substitution in a word or phrase.” And I don’t especially see the need here to tell the general public that it’s wrong. In fact, I think it’s a bit
high-headed high-handed to try to do so.
Idiom blends are a kind of malapropism. And if the linguists don’t like that, they’re gonna have to argue with a lot of native speakers of the language. (And perhaps with some other linguists.)
Pat: I agree with your point about malapropisms. I think the Venn Diagram of the language would have a large circle for malapropisms which subsumes or at least overlaps with the circle for idiom blends. Sure, the parsimony of categories is important, but it’s as if certain categories were defined before the analysis was completed on ambiguous examples. Someone really needs to map the whole thing out very carefully.
I also feel that the eggcorn-vs.-idiom-blend distinction is somewhat disputable. For instance, is “slaphazard” simply a blend of “haphazard” and “slapdash”? (Perhaps this isn’t the best example since the two words mean the same thing and this is more of a word blend than an idiom blend). But my point is this: I think a phrase that borrows a word from a standard idiom might still be an eggcorn if the utterer is not aware of the idiom when making the substitution. But all us eggcorn hunters know: Good luck reading the mind of the utterer.
I would further point out that although an eggcorn is supposed to be an unintentional substitution, one can sit around all day and attempt to “invent” them before searching for them. So, if an eggcorn “prototype”—if you will—can be invented a priori, what do you call the invention?
For example, I used the term “Venn diagram” above, and now I am wondering: “Do you suppose anyone ever called it a ‘Zen’ diagram?” Voila!... an eggcorn? ...
Jerry Kindall: July, 2001 ArchiveCNN has a decent interview with Neil Gaiman, although they don’t seem to understand what a Venn diagram is (they report Gaiman saying “Zen diagram” when …
www.jerrykindall.com/2001/july.asp – 126k – Cached – Similar pages
Last edited by jorkel (2006-09-22 00:14:26)
Diskgrinder: Is this from an englishman? (rocket being arugula)
This thread reminds me of a T-shirt sold via the very funny and superfantastic Manolo blog (www.shoeblogs.com). The legend on the shirt reads—in Manolo’s exquisitely fractured English: “Manolo says, The fashion it is not the nuclear rocket brain surgery.”
http://www.spreadshirt.com/shop.php?op= … 934681#top
The nice (i.e. complete, accurate) point being that rocket salad is a packaged product you can get from any supermarket in the UK
Last edited by diskgrinder (2006-09-26 01:21:14)
would added point out that although an eggcorn is declared to be an accidental substitution, one can sit about all day and attack to “invent” them afore analytic for them. So, if an eggcorn “prototype”—if you will—can be invented a priori,
Last edited by rs_shadow0000 (2009-07-28 07:50:04)
Come into the light, rs_shadow0000.
It seems quite likely that English is a second language for rs_shadow0000, so there’s no need to mock him. His point is simply about accidental vs. intentional language reshapings. My understanding on the subject is this:
An eggcorn is a naive (accidental) reshaping which contains legitimate imagery. As long as a single person arrived at the reshaping naively, then it is an eggcorn (...and if numerous people arrive at that same reshaping independently, then the eggcorn is all that much stronger and more credible).
Now, the exact same reshaping can be reached by someone sitting around and “formulating” reshapings and claiming them to be eggcorns, but those instances are not eggcorns because no one actually uttered them in a truly naive fashion. (It seems that’s precisely what many of us eggcorn “hunters” are doing when we go out to “find” a postulated eggcorn, but that’s beside my main point here).
The problem we sometimes have is when an intentional reshaping is prominently displayed—as with a business name based on a pun—leading some to believe the imagery (as their reference point) rather than understanding the expression from which it originated. In this case an intentional deception is involved, and I don’t think we could still call those instances eggcorns.
Note the exchange between commonpuffin and diskgrinder. It sounds as if packaged arugula salad goes by the name “rocket salad” in the UK, so the substitution of that in the context of “rocket science” is clearly intentional, and any (intentional) wordplay process is not producing an eggcorn as it’s end product.
Last edited by jorkel (2009-07-29 11:37:08)