Discussions about eggcorns and related topics
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Chris -- 2011-03-08
Timbre is characteristic sound quality or colour, especially of a voice. I heard someone on the radio today pronounce timbre like tamber, as if it were a French word. There is another resonant instrument, the drum, that is known in French as a tambour. Etymonline says that tambour itself is attested in English from the late 15c. Tambourines are certainly familiar in English. Confusing the two makes for an interesting malaprop, I think.
Where do you fall on “niche”? Et crêpe? How about scone?
Last edited by burred (2012-07-10 20:10:54)
(1) niche as in French
(2) crêpe as crayp (except in crêpe suzette, which seems to trigger my French circuits)
(3) scone as scawn. But when younger as though rhymed with phone – watched too many oxbridge accented BBC dramas, I suppose.. Another pronunciation that I have changed since moving to Canada 30 years ago is dour. Used to say dower, now say duːr (like do-er).
Ha! Fun. Shibboleths for a nonexistent nation. For me, nitch (except when speaking French), crayp (except when speaking French), scawn (oddly, except when speaking French here in Quebec, where the baristas all rhyme it with bone). I grew up saying dower to rhyme with shower, I think.
My pronunciation of “bonbon”, as if it were a double-sized bonfire, was a cause of merriment to my friend here. Another eye-opener was to learn how Don Quixote is pronounced in Spain, something like Donkey Hot. In Quebec, he is Donkey Shot. My pronunciation is Don Kyoty, not too far from Wile E. Coyote.
At a leisurely lunch with some friends today, I pulled out my list of the year’s best eggcorns and read them out—something I’ve found myself doing in recent years. This recitation usually evokes stories from the listeners about language slips they have known. What they report to me are mostly non-eggcorns, or, if they are eggcorns, they are already in our database or discussed on the forum. Someone mentioned one today, however that was new (to me, at least—I see it is mentioned at the end of this thread.). Her husband, said my friend, took a university course in literature that covered Don Quixote. When he bought the text, he was surprised at the spelling of the title. He had always thought the book’s title was Donkey Hotey. An appropriate substitution, given the mount that Sancho Panza rode.
The “timbre”/”tambour” confusion may possibly in some cases be exacerbated by the existence of a number of musical instruments (not all of them drums) from various countries with similar (related?) names, most of which have variant spellings too: tamboura, tambura, tampura, tamburah, tanpura, tanpoora, thamboora, thambura, tamboora, tambor, tambora, tamborazo, tambores, tamboril, tamborim, tamborins, tamburaccio, tamburo, tamburello, tamburica, tamburitza, tamburetto, tamburin, tambutica, tambur, tanbur, tanbour, tabor, taboret, taborine, tambal, tamboer, tamboerijn, tanboura…