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#1 2011-02-03 07:11:23

Dixon Wragg
Eggcornista
From: Santa Rosa, California
Registered: 2008-07-04
Posts: 653

"about" for "amount"

I’ve never encountered this one until now, and I think it’s new to this site, too: “As you probably are neither a physicist nor a mathematician, let me let you know: there is a certain about of (friendly) rivalry between the two disciplines…” (from a discussion about Einstein on Wikiquote).

Googling “a certain about of” yields about 9,820 hits and, judging from the first three pages of hits, they’re just about all eggcornish! (I’m assuming we can call this reshaping an eggcorn. Admittedly, the meaning connection is a bit tenuous, but maybe people are thinking of “about” in the sense of “approximately”, thus confusing it with “amount”. It’s even conceivable that the confusion was caused in some cases by someone with a bad cold saying “amount” and someone hearing that as “about”, LOL!)

A few examples:

“The 2005 Energy Bill allotted a certain about of credits to each carmaker…”

“She always manages to learn her lesson at hand with a certain about of humility…”

“In fact, worrying about job stress will actually create a certain about of stress all its own.” (Note the two different uses of “about” in this one.)

Here’s one that uses both “about” and “amount” in the same sentence: “This is a program that trains you to stay away from solid food for a certain about of days or a certain amount of time per day.”

And this quote, oddly, uses each form twice within two sentences: ”(Run a certain about of generations, with a certain amount of “tours” per generation. Keep a certain amount of “elites” per generation and then mutate a certain about of tours per generation.)”

Those last two suggest to me that some (all?) of these could be typos rather than real eggcorns, though it seems like a strange typo to make. Would this be an example of what they call a wtf typo?

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#2 2011-02-03 22:46:55

DavidTuggy
Eggcornista
From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-12
Posts: 1780
Website

Re: "about" for "amount"

It would certainly be a strange typo: the m>b switch is somewhat plausible (one index finger to the other, though with a rather different positioning), but you have to lose the n at the same time. Amount > abount would be more plausible, or amount > amout.

Amazing for there to be so many, and those cases where both are used are rather interesting as well. For those users, this is apparently not the classic kind of eggcorn where the perpetrator is ignorant of the acorn, thus unaware that he is committing what others will consider an error. Here the perptetrator is aware of the acorn but apparently thinks both are good form. I wonder if they put a slight difference in meaning between them?

Anyway, a very nice catch, be it fish or foul.


*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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#3 2011-02-03 23:42:18

David Bird
Eggcornista
From: Montréal, QC
Registered: 2009-07-28
Posts: 1193

Re: "about" for "amount"

It sounds like someone has a cold in the fingers.

The evidence has turned up repeatedly that the brain (or the spinal cord, or the not-wholly on the ball self) can confuse and stumble over and interchange whole words. We all do it all the time in our typing and, if we’re being fastidious about it, go back and correct those errors that we can see in rereading. Contributors to this forum do it, most commonly for homophones. Who knows what counts for a homophone in the unseen calculus of writing. The evidence in the last one is direct: ‘about’ and ‘amount’ are slotted in will he nill he.

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#4 2011-02-04 00:16:29

DavidTuggy
Eggcornista
From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-12
Posts: 1780
Website

Re: "about" for "amount"

Yes, I think that’s right. That kind of word substitution certainly does happen, and if you call it a typo this is one. I would tend to deny it that name and reserve the name for cases more closely tied in to the physical motions of typing, but it’s more a matter of definition than anything else. And the line is blurry, for sure. A good many wtf typos probably arise from the same mechanism.


*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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#5 2011-02-04 00:57:35

David Bird
Eggcornista
From: Montréal, QC
Registered: 2009-07-28
Posts: 1193

Re: "about" for "amount"

It appears that the psycholinguists are all over this. I think they call it phonological paraphasia.

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#6 2011-02-04 06:01:50

Dixon Wragg
Eggcornista
From: Santa Rosa, California
Registered: 2008-07-04
Posts: 653

Re: "about" for "amount"

David Bird wrote:

It sounds like someone has a cold in the fingers.

LOL!

The evidence has turned up repeatedly that the brain (or the spinal cord, or the not-wholly on the ball self) can confuse and stumble over and interchange whole words. We all do it all the time in our typing and, if we’re being fastidious about it, go back and correct those errors that we can see in rereading. Contributors to this forum do it, most commonly for homophones.

Yeah, like David Tuggy’s “fish or foul” in post #2 on this thread, though I’m inclined to assume that he did that one on purpose.

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#7 2011-02-04 10:17:33

DavidTuggy
Eggcornista
From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-12
Posts: 1780
Website

Re: "about" for "amount"

I did. But that may just mean that my conscious mind decided to let through what my not-wholly-on-the-ball unconscious self, brain or spinal cord had come up with in its confused stumbling. If not wholly purposeful it was at least advertent and purposeful in that sense.


*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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#8 2011-02-04 17:52:14

kem
Eggcornista
From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2153

Re: "about" for "amount"

my conscious mind decided to let through what my not-wholly-on-the-ball unconscious self, brain or spinal cord had come up with in its confused stumbling

One of the really great things about this forum is that we can commit the most outlandish errors in our prose and then have them taken as in-line puns by readers who think we are operating on a higher plane of linguistic self-consciousness. Life doesn’t get any better than this.

I thought about this escape clause the other day while writing the post on satyr/satire. When I read it over before hitting the submit button I saw that I had written “aged in caskets of finest classical wood” instead of “aged in casks of finest classical wood.” I changed it to “casks,” but it did occur to me that “casket” could be taken a pun on “cask” (cf. “coffin nails”) and that I might have been able wriggle out of the error if anyone had called attention to it.

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