Discussions about eggcorns and related topics
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Chris -- 2011-03-08
This forum has not yet noted the obvious and eggcornical substitution of “please” for “pleas.” A plea is, like the interjection “please,” a request for help. When “plea” is plural, its sound is identical (in my speech, at least) to “please.”
Examples all over the web. Here are three of them:
: “if anyone responds to my please for help….please write”
: “Ignore my please for help on #74”
: “Angry at the government and churches that ignored my please for help, even angry at God for bringing Martha and me out here.”
Pure SNOT this one. Excellent find! Like you, I’m amazed none of us had reported it.
we would be too simple-minded to understand it* .
I’m always pretty skeptical about exact homophones as eggcorns, especially when the reshaping takes the form of a very common word – as it does here. I think it’s safe to say that the vast majority of instances of “please” for “pleas” are misspellings; it’s absolutely inevitable.
But the semantic overlap here is more interesting than in most such cases, so I started wondering whether there were instances of “please” being treated as a singular noun, which would provide more evidence that people were really thinking of the word “please.” And in fact there are – including one from the British Telegraph newspaper, amazingly enough. Examples:
Passers-by recall seeing her face staring through the window in what may have been a please for help, according to senior detectives.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/ … -days.html
I am new to CreativeCOW.net and (predictably) my first post is a please for help…
I would pray with your friend, and I would make each petition a please for help in this regard.
So is it a flounder or a rare monosyllabic eggcorn? The spelling situation makes that pretty darn hard to answer.
So is it a flounder[?]
I would say not. “Pleas” and “please” don’t substitute (easily) for each other in all contexts, only in restricted phrasings. I suspect that all instances of “Court of Common Please” are mispellings, for example. And the verb “plea” seems unlikely to attract “please” (e.g. “he please for mercy”).
“Pleas” and “please” don’t substitute (easily) for each other in all contexts, only in restricted phrasings.
That might well be true; my guess would be the same. But the problem is that “please” is awkward in any substitution—this is a really interesting find precisely because it’s not a perfectly formed eggcorn—but people really do seem to be using it. And the spelling problem means that all the evidence beyond that is necessarily ambiguous. I don’t see a persuasive way of disambiguating the situation. And that’s why I shy away from homophonous reshapings: sooner or later the actual evidence runs out and eggcornicity comes down to what anyone wants to believe.
And the verb “plea” seems unlikely to attract “please” (e.g. “he please for mercy”).
Does the verbal form of the acorn need to work if you’re making an argument about the nominal form? And:
How he pleased for mercy: “No…Willard…don’t…”
Yeah—I know: the usual s/d problem. But again, interpretation is down to what you want to believe. And there’s also the more interesting
Jack pleases for mercy and surrender, but as Kayako is about to kill him, Donnie takes the shotgun and blowns Jack’s body to pieces, killing him.
This may just be a WTFT (like “blowns”). Or the writer may think the verb “please” can be used for the verb “plea.” You decide.
Last edited by patschwieterman (2011-07-06 01:14:42)