Discussions about eggcorns and related topics
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Chris -- 2011-03-08
Put down those noisemakers and refresh the egg knock, the time is come to choose the best eggcorns of 2011. Kem and I have put together a list of the year’s crop of eggcorns, slips, reshapings, innovations, reanalyses, squashes, blends, silicisms, fuzzy spots, and just plum inexplicable language mutation events, submitted here for our mutual delectation, consternation and mystification. This year we have 632 entries to choose from, down slightly from 880 in 2010 and 800 in 2009. You should try to winnow your faves down to the 10 best, or 20 if you really cannot decide. No judging qualifications necessary.JuanTwoThree’s recent thread entitled is one of the signs that we’re finally approaching the omegacorn. As if. The human ability to retool unfamiliar words, with striking logic, into new imagery, is and will surely remain a source of constant wonder, and has few sensible limits. So enjoy these licks from the English tongue. Feel free to add your own quirky categories for special cute-os.
Last edited by David Bird (2012-01-01 07:04:01)
2011 eggcorns F to Pf-feminate << effeminate | David B
Best of the year candidates Q-Zq-stick << cue stick | David T
We have a warm spot on this forum, there by the hearth, for those words that seem to exist tangled together in big fuzzy heaps. One word is so like another, in those woolly, looped networks, gone up the chimney and out of all sound now except the distant speaking of the voices one sometimes hears whispering from the keyboard a moment before clicking on send, so that one can never distinguish all the convoluted and imbricated significations as they roll together down toward the two-tongued sea, like a cold and headlong moon bundling down the sky above the memory banks. You plunge in your hand and bring out whatever you can find. The vague outlines of the following fuzzy spots were sketched in this year.
Um, David—Dylan Thomas’s lawyer just called, and he’d like a word with you….
Thanks to you and Kem for the amazing amount of work these lists represent. And the fuzzy-spot roundup is a great idea.
Because I helped David with the indexing, I got a chance to sift through the candidates before they were posted. I’ve been picking through my favs for the last two weeks. I’ll post them in a bit.
It was fun to look back over some of our discussions. One of the more interesting ones was . Joe’s comment at the end about “an ounce of nonce is worth a pound of expound” was priceless. We also had two extended discussions on the idiomatic context of eggcorns, and . David B – the jury is still out about whether the decline in the entropy of the universe was measurable. We may have found something new to English linguistics . David B and Pat and our discussion of the talk opened the door to some new thinking about malaprops vs eggcorns. And could we fail to acknowledge ? At 2500 words, it has to be the largest post in the history of the forum. He may have to wait until 2013 for comments—some of us are slow readers.
Sorry, David. Haven’t been able to get my best-of-the-year selections down to 20 since the 2008 round. Thirty is as low as I go these days. I have the moral fibre of a warm rubber band.
First, the award for the lowest hanging fruit. It’s a three-way tie, in my opinion, between two of my choices for year’s best, “newmonic” and “peeness,” and a not-one-of-the-best candidate, “please” for “pleas:”
In narrowing the list of candidates I invoked two of criteria more than others. One criterion was that the candidate acorn and eggcorn had to be phonologically close. It’s the near miss aspect, the close-but-no-cigarness, that ramps up the revelation on good eggcorns. I used an imagination game as another canon. I pretended that I was relating the eggcorn a group of literate, pun/fun-loving friends over a dessert that followed a great meal. I thought about how much they might laugh or applaud at the eggcorn candidate (An easy scenario to visualize, since In the first few months of 2011 I actually did carry around a card with the best of 2010, inflicting them on various groups.).
Several of the best eggcorns this year are “of course” eggcorns. They are so well-turned that any lexicographer worth his/her salt would, I believe, agree that the eggcorn deserves to boot out the acorn. They are:
arboreal << boreal
clogmire << quagmire
dumbfoolery << tomfoolery
excruciating/excruciate ligament << cruciate ligament
extenduating << extenuating
gonuts << gonads
once beaten, twice shy << once bitten, twice shy
refuse << recuse
spatial theory of relativity << special theory of relativity
A number of other eggcorns, while not such obvious replacements of their acorns, manage to improve the acorns in rather clever ways. I am thinking of eggcorns like:
airogant << arrogant
absent << absinthe
bandshee << banshee
displacea << displaysia
edgitation << agitation
hegitation << hesitation
professioncy << proficiency
seamsdress << seamstress
trancefixed << transfixed
Then there are the double yolk eggcorns, the ones that cram a couple of substitute semantic units into the word being replaced:
A few “just plain funny” eggcorns:
Finally, some “huh” eggcorns – ones that I would probably use (and probably have used) without even realizing that there was a lost acorn:
Last edited by kem (2012-01-02 05:52:21)
I’m delighted to see that Kem’s list has little in common with mine. I couldn’t in good conscience my list past 40 winners. My criteria included the usual: that the eggcorn sound sufficiently like the acorn that it pass freely in the world, but be at the same time subversive and speak about the perpetrator’s altered perspective. Like absent for absinthe. That it be sweetly naïve. Like gentle herpes. It helps if the altered imagery is easy and natural, like hang bag for handbag. I haven’t distinguished among Lehman’s terms (Billy Reuben), Aunty Lehmen (bloody merry), squashes (oddly, there aren’t any in my list this year) or Grade A eggcorns. Four of my picks have the double distinction of twin yolks. Thirteen different forum members contributed to my list. Ok, admittedly, some picks got on my list because they were just out there. Like Juan’s coleslaw for cold sore. Or dear dairy rear (you may notice that I tend to like the corporeal, body function ones). I’ve considered all finalists on my list carefully and I could happily accept any of them as best of the year.absent << absinthe | Juan
Thanks to everyone and all the best in the New Year!
Our own load has increased pretty dramatically recently, even as Chris has been working to put new protections in place. 6 months ago, I banned and deleted a few a month. A couple of weeks ago, I was deleting about one a day. Now I’m deleting 3-4 a day, sometimes more. The mathematical implications are worrying…
http://eggcorns.lascribe.net/forum/view … hp?id=3194
Those prophetic words about spammy desecration of the Forum were written on 23 September, 2008. Think about them as you look over the following figure, which shows the history of monthly new inscriptions, and on the debit side, monthly banishments to those who made it through the various hoops that had been set up to keep them out. The period covered is from the inauguration of the Forum until the end of 2011.
The little blip of banishments in the later part of 2008 was dwarfed by the spam barrage of late 2010 – early 2011, especially in contrast to the number of legit new members. And as I recall, the new and more worrying development of 2010-11 was the depredations of hackers and miners, whose activities led to temporary closure of all Eggcornish Meeting Places, leaving various forum regulars gasping for eggcornical oxygen. The inevitable upshot was severe restriction on new inscriptions that has meant that no new members have joined since early March. I have tried in a small way to bring new blood to the forum by scanning for alternative eggcorn nesting sites from time to time. This patrol led to reporting of one of the year’s best, you’ve sent me on a wild goof trek, from a BBC radio site, for example.
Here’s a similar graph, based on the same membership data. This one shows cumulative membership, and banishments, over time. There was one casting out into outer darkness in 2007 – the first. 2008 and 2009 each saw about 80 social piranhas cursed into oblivion. Then, in 2010, almost 1200 got the boot.
This message therefore heralds the unflagging defensive jiu jitsu of our site administrator, Pat, and the protective oversight of our very own Eggcorn Faery, Chris Waigl.
It is likely that this unfortunate defensive footing is partly responsible for the slight decrease in submissions this year, regrettably. The other reason is of course our deadly efficiency in spotting and bagging eggcorns over the years. Symptomatic of that success is that we’ve largely abandoned reporting of the number of hits, raw, legit, unique or otherwise, unless they reach into the heady realm of a score or more. Juan’s post on the ones that somebody else got to first would probably become the most active thread on the board if every frustrated discovery was admitted to. So perhaps every new hit deserves ever greater glory. As we approach the speed of light, further progress requires disproportionately increasing effort and is thereby rendered more heroic, as lightweight particles come to weigh as much as planets, and each of us becomes as a titan, or a eggcorn god.
Heh, sorter got carried away there for a moment. Scrupulous screwtiny of the forum’s back pages reveals that 12 pages of new threads were added to the Contributions forum in 2011. In 2010, we managed to fill 21¼ pages. 2009 saw 21¾, 2008 was 20, then people got enthusiastic. 28 pages of new topics were filled in 2007 and 31¾ in 2006. If we prorate the contributions from the bing-bang period of late 2005 during the forum’s spin up, there were 28 pp that year. These don’t take into account the other fora nor the Database contributions.
I’m not allowed to read anyone’s “Best of” posts till I post my own, and I can’t do that till the grading is finished, so it’s gonna be a while.
But when I saw the pretty graphs, I had to read.
It’s nice to have a statistician on the staff. We should pay you more. I was astonished by your reported number of bans in 2010—I had no clue there were so many. And Chris and I fill in the details of the ban forms a bit differently, so I can tell by looking at the ban reports that she has accounted for lots of them—I suspect that she uses an automated tool to ID some of them, while I have to actually read the posts to see who’s a cyborg.
The bright side of the shut-down of auto-registration in March is that I don’t think I’ve even looked at the ban procedure since then. But as you suggest, the down side is the loss of the input of newbies. And I’ve noted before that “passers-by” who register, make one or two posts, and then disappear into the cybermists forever have tended to make some of the finest contributions in a given year. I’ve often referred to the double-yolked “debut>>dayview” eggcorn as one of the best finds ever, and that was the work of Kohath who posted—wait for it!—exactly twice. I think it’s possible for the regulars to fall into eggcorn-hunting groupthink, and newbies shake us out of that by coming up with great finds where we’ve never looked or have stopped looking. I do hope we can restart auto-registration sometime this year. But you’ve done a good job of reminding me just how bad the spam was getting before the shutdown.
I’m less sure that we’re reaching Eggcorn Omega. It’s no longer shooting fish in a barrel—the metaphor I think Mark Liberman used back in the early days of the eggcorn hunt in 2003—but David, your own astonishing string of contributions this year has done a lot to convince me that there are plenty of great finds still out there just waiting to be bagged by a sufficiently hungry eggcornista. Part of the dip in contributions is also clearly attributable to the near-disappearance of a lot of regulars this year, including me. I still read every day, but two straight semesters of coming up with a bunch of brand-new classes sidelined me pretty effectively; I’m looking forward to rejoining the hunt in 2012. I think related issues have kept David T. an only occasional participant. And Joe, Peter, and Ken all fell silent earlier in the year. On the other hand, Peter seems to be back (yay!), TootsNYC made some appearances after an even longer absence, and Dadge—who, like Ken, predates me on the site—made some driveby postings in the summer. But it looks like I may have to apply for federal funding to get that eggcornista-retention program going. Hopefully the gold watches I sent out for Christmas (you did all get them, right?) will help keep people coming back.
It does need to be said that Kem and David B. accounted for a heck of a lot of whatever life the site still has in it. Thanks for all the hard work, guys!
Oh, about that outage that darkened the forum for a few days. Um, it was spam-related, but (Pat blushes, looks at the floor, scuffs it with a shoe) I seem to have been the main culprit; Chris never did figure out exactly how I did it, but my attempt to ban a spammer was the last electronic trace she could find before the lights went out. Boy was that embarrassing…. So I’m definitely looking forward to 2012.
Last edited by patschwieterman (2012-01-02 06:37:05)
Thanks for the welcome, Pat. I hope I can contribute a little more this year, for simply applauding the valiant efforts of David B. and Kem in keeping this strange craft shipshape and in fine trim may afford some small gratification, but it’s no real help.I’ve managed to keep my ‘best of’ down to ten, but that’s no reflection on the rest of the field; if I were to choose again tomorrow there would probably be many new entrants.
ceased up engine << seized | David T
cinchpin << linchpin | David B
dead heap << dead heat | Pat
dumbfoolery << tomfoolery | David B
forciferous << vociferous | David B
heavenside layer << Heaviside layer | Kem
inclimbed plane << inclined plane | Joe
lost nest monster << Loch Ness monster | Juan
rebuilditation << rehabilitation | David B
scissarian << caesarean | David B