Discussions about eggcorns and related topics
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Chris -- 2011-03-08
The tethered Parseval-Sigsfeld kite balloon that the German command introduced to the WWI battlefield combined the qualities of a lighter-than-air-balloon (aloft in any wind) with those of a kite (orientation toward the wind). The balloon was used to carry an observer aloft in a slung basket. A picture and description of the balloon is provided in a 1914 Flight magazine, article pages viewable and .
The Germans called the balloon “der Drachen.” “Drachen” was (and still is) the German word for a kite. See, for example, . on the term.
The English on the other side of the trench lines tended to call the German battlefield contraptions “sausage balloons” or “dragon balloons.” The name “dragon balloons” may be a cross-language misunderstanding, a confusion between two similar words in the source language. The German word for “dragon” is “der Drache,” and in several English articles on the web the German name of the balloon is said to be based on “der Drache” rather than on “der Drachen.” See, for example, , which also includes a video clip of the WWI balloons.
Two small qualifications, however, make this a less than perfect example of a cross-language eggcorn. First, the German word for kite, “der Drachen,” is no doubt adapted, with a sidelong glance at classic Chinese dragon kites, from the German word for “dragon,” Second, it is possible that in dubbing the Parseval-Sigsfeld “der Drachen,” the inventors may been invoking the lexical ancestor of “kite:” a militärische context would provide a natural link to the dragon etymon.
Last edited by kem (2013-04-18 19:31:51)
Let them fly over the dragoons on the ground below: the one flies and the other spits fire. (Yes, dragoon (n) comes from the word for dragon, though it first meant a fire-spitting fire-arm, later the armed man wielding it. The verb dragoon came from the noun.)
*If the human mind were simple enough for us to understand,
we would be too simple-minded to understand it* .