Discussions about eggcorns and related topics
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Chris -- 2011-03-08
There must be an aspect of eggcornishness in this, but I would appreciate the views of better informed and much cleverer fellow contributors. It’s something to do with hearing or listening or attending or not attending but hearing anyway and – well here’s an example…I was reading a book and keeping half an eye and half a reluctant ear at the same time on the television where a large group of protesters were carrying placards and chanting a chant. Around that time there had been a number of individuals imprisoned under rather dubious circumstances and protests on their behalf were common – I’m trying to establish a context here – and demands for their release were frequent and noisy. Those on the television were chanting, “Freedom! freedom!” but with a peculiar lilt which to my half-ear rendered their demand, “Free Dumphrey Dum!”
The bit of my brain which my half-ear had access to found itself wondering who the hell Dumphrey Dum was and what the poor soul had been accused of.
It reminds me of word games played by young children, the sound equivalent of spinning around until dizzy just for the fun of it, that is, the repetition of a word until what sense or meaning it had is drained away, leaving room for something else eg infirmary morphs itself into Marie in fur…
Peter, I enjoyed your post: it is quite hilarious to read. I thought the word rearrangement that you described might be listed among the standard parlor games or the standard word games, but I haven’t been able to locate it. You might search around the Wikipedia beginning at “Word Games” and branching outward from their lists. (The rearrangement also seems to be very similar to constructions like “Entrees on trays,” but I don’t know the name of that game either. If I had any say in the matter, that’s what I would name it).