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#1 2013-02-21 23:02:53

kem
Eggcornista
From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2161

PageRank, Pap tests, Townsend hidden eggcorns

Three hidden eggcorns with proper noun associations have come to my attention recently. One of them is PageRank, which we have discussed in this forum. PageRank is Google’s patented method for deciding which pages to show someone doing a Google search. It seems to be an allusion to web pages, but it is actually named after the algorithm’s inventor, Larry Page, Google’s co-founder.

Another proper noun has contributed to a medical confusion. A pap test, called a pap smear when I first heard about it, is an examination of a slide smear of cervical cells that is used to detect cancer. I assumed when I heard this term that it made some reference to women’s parts (“pap” is an old term for breast/teat) or to the gooey pap that is classically fed to infants (what do you smear, if not pappy stuff?). The test is actually named after the Greek doctor, Georgios Papanikolaou, who invented the test.

The third miss is a road name. My wife and I were driving through a nearby town, looking for a building she had visited. She told me to turn at “Towns End Road.” When I got there, the street sign said “Townsend Road,” named, presumably, after one of the many British-descended people with a Townsend surname. The surname probably derives from the phrase “towns end,” but I doubt that many think about its possible etymology when they hear the surname.

These hidden eggcorns are Aunty Lehmanns – words that result from turning a proper noun into a similar common noun. As in “Tajma Hall.” They are hidden because we have no clue, short of a confession, what speakers are thinking (though the last, “Townsend,” may be pronounced differently by some of those thinking about “towns end”).

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#2 2013-03-16 15:49:45

kem
Eggcornista
From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2161

Re: PageRank, Pap tests, Townsend hidden eggcorns

Bacteria can be divided into groups based on their reaction to crystal violet stain. Those who take up the stain are gram-positive, those who don’t are gram-negative. The test is named after the person who pioneered it, a Dane, Hans Christian Gram. Seems like this might be, like Pap smear, another example of a medical term with a semantic transfer. I wonder how many who use/read this term think it has something to do with the metric unit of weight.

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#3 2013-03-16 16:52:21

David Bird
Eggcornista
From: Montréal, QC
Registered: 2009-07-28
Posts: 1204

Re: PageRank, Pap tests, Townsend hidden eggcorns

kem wrote:

I wonder how many who use/read this term think it has something to do with the metric unit of weight.

Perhaps the British spelling, gramme, is a potential giveaway.

Salmonella bacteria are rod-shaped, flagellated, gramme stain-negative, and are known to cause…
http://216.139.215.75/Product_Category:Eggs

a suspension of both gramme positive and gramme negative organisms were added to sterile nutrient agar at 45 ºC
http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/326432/3/Docu … plorer.pdf

BTW, this is a nifty collection of hidden eggcorns.

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#4 2013-03-17 06:22:51

kem
Eggcornista
From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2161

Re: PageRank, Pap tests, Townsend hidden eggcorns

Gramme. Nice trick. Using, one might say, a grammar negative test.

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#5 2013-03-24 18:11:40

Eoin
Member
Registered: 2006-04-12
Posts: 11

Re: PageRank, Pap tests, Townsend hidden eggcorns

Then, of course, there is Salmonella itself, which refers neither to spoiled fish nor the shape or behavior of the bacteria, but instead the discoverer, Dr. Salmon.

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#6 2013-04-04 09:21:45

Dixon Wragg
Eggcornista
From: Santa Rosa, California
Registered: 2008-07-04
Posts: 657

Re: PageRank, Pap tests, Townsend hidden eggcorns

Eoin wrote:

Then, of course, there is Salmonella itself, which refers neither to spoiled fish nor the shape or behavior of the bacteria, but instead the discoverer, Dr. Salmon.

Dr. Ella Salmon?

Sorry.

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