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#1 2011-07-07 14:51:34

kem
Eggcornista
From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2119

at any road << at any rate

Some people think that the idiom “at any rate” is “at any road.” I first noticed this inversion on the subtitles to the BBC drama South Riding (Bless all subtitlers: without them dialect driven BBC dramas would be as riddled with holes as the Queen’s tea strainers.). The web confirms the widespread nature of the switch. Some examples:

Feminist blog:At any road, it is disappointing to see a blogger who I respect write a post that essentially reads…. ”

Unexplained mysteries forum:At any road, it’s a very scary predicament when your in it”

Blog entry:At any road, I think in addition to feeling as if she is a special kind of friend, personally known or not, those who knew anything about what she has and has not done believed she had been betrayed enough.”

Gaming forum:At any road, I was forced to go BACK into the order and fix the expiration date on the CC info”

Nother blog entry:At any road, I don’t follow the Survivor show AT ALL,”

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#2 2011-07-07 19:25:16

fpberger
Eggcornista
Registered: 2006-08-16
Posts: 130

Re: at any road << at any rate

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#3 2011-07-07 21:59:22

kem
Eggcornista
From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2119

Re: at any road << at any rate

Nice find, fp. As I was looking over examples of “at any road,” I thought there must be some semantic attractor out there influencing the switch – the sound leap from “rate” to “road” seems just too large to make without a bridge. But I couldn’t think what the attractor might be. Having “anyroad” with the meaning of “anyway” would allow the speaker to add an “at” under the influence of “at any rate.” Making “at any road” a blend as well as an eggcorn.

The speaker in South Riding, which is set in Yorkshire, was probably using “any road” in a dialectically correct way.

Last edited by kem (2011-07-08 13:31:21)

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#4 2011-07-07 23:29:03

patschwieterman
Administrator
From: California
Registered: 2005-10-25
Posts: 1665

Re: at any road << at any rate

The gate/road/way family of adverbs and adverbial phrases in historical/dialectal English is humongous. The word “gate” (“path,” “street”; from Old Icelandic “gata”) was an especially fertile seedbed of things adverbial in Middle English. Here’s the OED’s listing, and I know they don’t list a bunch of things that occurred in Middle English:

In combination with certain adjs. and advs., often with advb. genitive ending -s, as any gate(s. Also algate adv., another-gates adj., howgate adv., many gate adv., many gates adv., no-gate adv., no-gates adv., none-gate adv., none-gates adv., othergate adv. and adj., othergates adv. and adj., sogate adv., sogates adv., thus-gate adv., thus-gates adv., for which see those words.

For many of them, you can figure out the meaning by substituting “way(s)” or “wise” for “gate(s).”

At any gate, if you want to send your head spinning, read the amazingly long etymological note to “road” in the OED.

Last edited by patschwieterman (2011-07-07 23:33:04)

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#5 2011-07-11 20:39:34

Jim Dixon
Member
From: St. Paul, Minnesota, USA
Registered: 2006-08-11
Posts: 36

Re: at any road << at any rate

Everyone here seems to be assuming that “at any rate” is correct and old, and that “at any road” is wrong, new, and a mishearing of “rate.” Couldn’t it just as easily be the other way around?

Anyway, I don’t see the logic of “at any rate.” What do rates have to do with anything?

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#6 2011-07-11 22:20:16

kem
Eggcornista
From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2119

Re: at any road << at any rate

“At any road” is not, apparently, an English idiom. “Any road” is. I suspect the “at” is a result of a blend with “at any rate.” Though for some the path from “at any rate” to “at any road” probably does not go through “any road (=anyway).”

“Rate” in the idiom means “cost, price.” The idea seems to be to pursue the action in the main clause no matter what the outlay (i.e., at any cost).

English has a number of “rate” idioms. “At this rate” also harks back to accounting, though most modern speakers probably think it has something to do with rate of speed.

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#7 2011-07-11 23:21:33

DavidTuggy
Eggcornista
From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-12
Posts: 1758
Website

Re: at any road << at any rate

kem wrote:

“At this rate” also harks back to accounting, though most modern speakers probably think it has something to do with rate of speed.

Indeed. To me the prototypical usage would be something like “at this rate we’ll never get there!”

In a sense an interest rate or other accounting rate is a matter of speed (in an abstract sense: change in “size” rather than “position” over time) as well. Fwtw.


*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 2011-07-12 01:48:39

patschwieterman
Administrator
From: California
Registered: 2005-10-25
Posts: 1665

Re: at any road << at any rate

Jim Dixon wrote:

Everyone here seems to be assuming that “at any rate” is correct and old, and that “at any road” is wrong, new, and a mishearing of “rate.” Couldn’t it just as easily be the other way around?

There’s a problem of evidence. “At any rate” in something approaching the current meaning is well attested, and goes back well over 300 years. But as Kem implied, it’s pretty darn hard to find instances of “at any road” in the same sense in published writing. Also, even the phrase “any road” isn’t attested till the very late 19th C; dialectal/regional usage often made it into print only very late, so it’s possible “any road” is older than we know, but again the evidence doesn’t seem to be available.

He also wrote:

Anyway, I don’t see the logic of “at any rate.” What do rates have to do with anything?

As Kem said, this could have developed as an extension of the “cost, price” meaning of “rate,” and the OED entry might be read as implying that that’s what they think, too. But “rate” could also mean “mode, manner, way in which something is done” by the early 16th C, so both the “manner” and “cost” meanings were available for “rate” by the time the idiom started showing up in the early 17th C. Since “anyways,” “anygates,” and much later “any road” could also mean something between “in any manner” and “in any case,” I think it’s at least possible that the development of “at any rate” was influenced by the ways/gates/-wise family of adverbs.

Last edited by patschwieterman (2011-07-12 01:49:12)

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