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Chris -- 2011-03-08

#1 2011-09-29 21:40:13

David Bird
From: Montréal, QC
Registered: 2009-07-28
Posts: 1221

"pawing over" for poring over

The database already contains the eggcorn, pouring over (a text), which is explained as pouring your heart into something, or lavishing attention upon it. To “paw over” a text, like a grisly bear, is a less genteel but equally enthusiastic way to devote yourself to it, though you risk smudging it.

Release of the [Reserve Bank of Australia] Minutes for the May meeting will be a key event (Tuesday), with analysts pawing over the text for any more hints on how intent the RBA is on tightening near term.
Fiscal report

Cash payments are continuing till the beginning of december, still pawing over the fine print though
New contract news

You can’t download these or print them for free, but you can zoom in to paw over the details of every map at high resolution. … urces.html

Me and Simona spend Saturday night pawing over the books you lent, and making plans! … th-my.html

Which? are urging customers of these banks to paw over the details of their accounts with a fine toothed comb … 22008.html

there are no surviving alternate hypotheses for how continents came to be where they are. This is not true for speciation across the K/T! Respected scientists paw over the data and scratch their heads.

After forty years of scholarship that has carefully pawed over the data
Heidegger’s philosophy



#2 2011-09-30 00:56:45

From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2184

Re: "pawing over" for poring over

This is a puzzler. We have the well-established English idiom “to paw through.” The OED describes this usage of “paw” in this way: “To grasp or strike at roughly or clumsily; to run a hand roughly, clumsily, or greedily over, through, etc., something.” It is possible that the ones using “paw over” are just extending the “paw through” idiom to another preposition – or perhaps “paw over” is already a common English usage and the speakers are extending the targets of the action to include texts.

If they really are replacing “pore over” with “paw over,” then they are probably being pulled in this direction by the established “paw through.”



#3 2011-09-30 01:40:57

David Bird
From: Montréal, QC
Registered: 2009-07-28
Posts: 1221

Re: "pawing over" for poring over

Yes, this is one of those cases where it’s conceivable that all of these were eyes-open intentional. I tried to choose only those instances where pore would have been a much better choice. As a respected scientist, I have to admit that sometimes I do paw data over, badly.



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