Discussions about eggcorns and related topics
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Chris -- 2011-03-08
The origin of the word “slum” is disputed. It began to be used in the British press in the middle of the nineteenth century and spread, along with other bits of British language and culture, to the rest of the world. It spread almost as quickly as slums themselves. The word “slum” invokes different images for different people, but most users of the term agree on one connotation: that slums are places where people don’t want to live.
A slump is a droop, a decline, a falling off, or a period of time characterized by these terms. A slump is something that no sports figure wants to experience.
The shared negativity of “slum” and “slump” may account for the fact that a large a large number of people substitute “slump” for “slum.”
: “I got to spend 30 minutes on the couch with this very charming, wrinkle free Brazilian doctor talking about everything from his difficult childhood, growing up in the slumps of Sao Palo,”
: “Mango Street is a perfect example of a vignette that incorporates many literary devices into one story about a girl living in the slumps of Chicago.”
: “But how many people know that Diego grew up in the slumps of Villa Fiorito,”
The switch flows in the opposite direction: web sites substitute “slum” for “slump:”
: “More often than not, due to the economic slum we are all experiencing today, we find ourselves in a heap of financial obligations we simply cannot manage. ”
: “However, due to the economic slum, he was unable to find a job.”
: “Having a celebrity following is largely the way most of these brands made it through the economic slum of the past few years,”
: “The global economic slum has forced every person to cut down his or her expenditures as per income. ”
Using “slum” for “slump” may be nothing more than a misspelling. The switch in this direction not all that common, and leaving a letter off the end of a word is an easy mistake to make. “Slump” for “slum,” though, is probably an eggcorn.
I think you’ve stumbled across another fuzzy spot, if fuzz can be stumbled over. Most um/ump words that spring to mind are fairly negative, or at least deeply inelegant: sump, which waste liquid drains into, hump, rump, dumb/dump, bum, chump, plump, Forrest Gump, trump and pump – dialect words for Johnson’s “wind from behind,” Humpty-Dumpty and numpty, for example. The lumpenproletariat seem to be elbowing their way in too.
I know that Kem’s pretty skeptical about the possibility that clusters of words from different origins could have been influenced in their development and in their retention in the language by subconscious associations of sound and meaning. But frump, grump, mumps and stump also spring to mind here. And Donald Trump is an interesting companion for Forrest Gump.
Most um/ump words that spring to mind are fairly negative, or at least deeply inelegant
ump/umb, did you mean (there are an uncountable number of -um words because of English’s Latin connections)? Some ump/umb words are negative, but think also of tump/ump/jump/bump and crumb/plumb/rhumb/thumb. The inelegance may be a function of the AS origin of most of the words.
The umb/ump words are more like the word groups with submorphemic syntax that we have discussed on the forum. Big fuzzy spots are words that readily interchange because of sound/semantic similarities.
Surprised to see Forest Gump on your neg list. I always thought that the author was reaching for some connection with gumption.
Last edited by kem (2011-12-29 22:10:19)
Ah, I didn’t realise fuzziness could be so rigorous. I’d returned with the thought that Tom Thumb might have clumped along quite happily with those other characters, and compounded my error by rounding up a herd of umbles, which I fondly imagined might have been distant cousins: humble, fumble, bumble, jumble, crumble, stumble and mumble for example, and driven them with innocent enthusiasm to the gates of the forum. I’ve called off my border collies, and promise not to make the same mistake again.