Discussions about eggcorns and related topics
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Chris -- 2011-03-08
The verb “dock,” meaning to lop off/curtail/withhold, has deep Teutonic roots. Chaucer and Wycliffe both employed it. The word has seen a steady decline, however, . Where it still occurs, it seems to restrict itself to actions taken on (1) animal tails or (2) earned wages. One suspects that if there were not two objects on which it acted, the verb “dock” might already have slipped into the oblivion of idiomatic opacity.
“Dock” is already near enough to semantic darkness to generate spontaneous substitutions. A popular one is “doc.” On thousands of web pages we hear about “doc the pay” and “doc the tail.” This is probably just a misspelling, especially since “doc,” the nickname for “doctor,” is a noun, not a verb – though one could imagine the speaker thinking about verbalized surgeons doing some serious trimming of their patient’s limbs and lucre.
A less common substitution, but a more believable eggcorn, is the replacement of “dock” by “duck.” “To duck” is to bend/immerse/escape. The employer who docks an employee’s pay ducks his/her contracted responsibility.
Examples of “duck” for “dock.”
: “Picard better kick Data’s ass and duck his pay when this is over!”
: “dude my boss busted me smokin a jay and fukin ducked my pay for the week ”
: “That is, if you want to duck my pay by 100 euros, you pay me 100 euros a month in shares of the company. ”
: “If their till doesn’t balance and it gets ducked out of their pay then they better get better at their jobs because one day the supermarket’s management will change and they’ll stop being so lenient with them.”
: “Julian replies that he does not like to come to this side of the track but he was thinking about Pilar and how they would have to duck her pay on the days that she will not come to work but go to see her son in prison.”
Trivia challenge: Is
Duck duck duck duck duck.
(a) a children’s game or
(b) a legitimate English sentence?
I think the children’s game, from before my time, was Duck duck goose, so I’m going to go for (b). Is it something legitimate used without punctuation in the trenches?
A comma, perhaps.
How about “Avoid duck-on-duck immersion”? (Verb1-noun1-verb2-noun1-noun2).
Or is it a gentle reminder, by example: Get your ducks in a row.
Last edited by David Bird (2011-08-21 12:28:45)
Duck duck duck duck duck.
Probably many ways to map this onto a grammatical sentence. Here’s one:
Duck – the lesser-used plural of the swimming/diving/dabbling bird (“Several duck are in the pond”).
duck – plural verb meaning to avoid (“The kids duck their chores whenever they can”)
duck – familiar name for an odd character (“Where’s the old duck when you need him.”) turned into a nominal adjective
duck – noun referring to an immersion (“The wily fellow avoided the attempted duck”)
duck. – like “ducky,” a slang term used to express affection (“Wassup, duck”)
Thus: “The swimming birds avoided the immersion of the chap, matey.”