Discussions about eggcorns and related topics
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Chris -- 2011-03-08
What? My plan was to use eggcorns in public whenever I can—and play dumb about it—just to mess with peoples’ head. And now you want to take that away?
What, proscribe eggcorns? Nay, laddie. I don’t let slip to anyone anymore that they are using an eggcorn; the reaction is always negative, however much I might want it to be celebrated. I regret having told a dear relative that it’s not really a “melody” of spices nor of salad greens: that was a gem. I have taken an active adversarial role in the frequent online polls on CBC decrying the debasement of the language. The latest, announced Friday, wants to ban “viral”, “Google” (as a verb), and “live life to the fullest”, of all things. Admittedly, I might have been led far astray here. I’ve noticed that I’ve come to embrace and even cherish clichés, which provide such important fooder for eggcorns.
I have taken an active adversarial role in the frequent online polls on CBC decrying the debasement of the language.
Yes! Let’s celebrate the creative, surprising, ear-opening ways in which people actually use the language.
And I’ll post a year-end soon, but right now I have to get back to grading—and shaking my head at my students for their creative, surprising, ear-opening ways of using our ostensibly shared language.
As a writer, I’m aware how much I depend on our common heritage of English. The language will evolve, of course – English speakers in the 2500s will find our language habits uncouth. But I’d like to preserve for as long as possible some common and widely-accepted standards of usage, grammar, and spelling. So yes, I do correct serious malapropisms, even eggcorns, and I expect to be corrected (a principle that we on this forum should perhaps call the “golden rue”).
Think of our language as a ship. We can’t stop it from carrying us to strange ports on its multi-century voyage. But we can try to keep our part of the ship tidy.