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#1 2012-05-13 15:20:56

kem
Eggcornista
From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2095

zap << >> sap

Calling this forum’s attention to a word discussion thread of the eggcornical substitution of “zap” for “sap,” as in the phrase “zapped of energy.”

“Zap” and “sap” have exchanged bodily fluids on many occasions. There are a number of examples of the exchange flowing in the opposite direction, “sap” replacing “zap.” One of them:

Web fiction: “He was aimlessly scampering around in the RED base. He didn’t have much of a job to do; every so often he’d run over to the sentries and sap them, ”

The word “zap” jolted into the the English language in the 1960s,“ Its source may be the use of the word in pulp science fiction to imitate the sound of an advanced hand weapon. If it is an SF-derived term, it has lots of company. Science fiction has been a fecund font of fresh English words. Editors of the recent Oxford dictionary of science fiction entitled the volume, with some justification, Brave New Words.

Last edited by kem (2013-05-02 13:15:45)

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#2 2012-05-13 18:13:38

burred
Eggcornista
From: Montreal
Registered: 2008-03-17
Posts: 930

Re: zap << >> sap

Good one. The same confusion exists in French, now that zapping is quotidian and sapping a thing of the past. That brings us to the hidden eggcorn in “to sap”. It appears that “to sap the strength” is a deep-time eggcorn itself whose roots would be very difficult to disentangle. Tree sap is O.E., but sappers, as engineers who undermined the walls of castles, is M.Fr. The destructive kind of sap was originally a shovel, or in Milano, a zappa.

bonjour,je suis bloque devant le onjon du chateau dans le premier thème…Je n´arrive pas a trouver des soldats pour proteger le zapeur qui creuse le
souterrain sous le donjon..help me!
[Trans. Hello, I’m stuck at the dungeon of the first level… I can’t find the soldiers to protect the zapper who digs underneath the dungeon…aidez moi!]
French gamer

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#3 2013-04-18 04:40:50

kem
Eggcornista
From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2095

Re: zap << >> sap

DavidB: Andrew L. Sihler, Language History (Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing, 2000), p. 96, backs you up:

The verb to sap is (or was) synonymous with to undermine (cf sapper); it is likely, however, that all or nearly all English speakers, native and otherwise, take an expression like it sapped their strength as equivalent to it drained their strength (as one takes sap out of a maple tree, say).

Last edited by kem (2013-04-18 16:19:26)

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#4 2013-04-18 15:40:24

DavidTuggy
Eggcornista
From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-12
Posts: 1748
Website

Re: zap << >> sap

I am a perp: I had always thought of draining tree sap.


*If the human mind were simple enough for us to understand,
we would be too simple-minded to understand it* .

(Possible Corollary: it is, and we are .)

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#5 2013-05-02 01:30:12

larrybob
Eggcornista
Registered: 2007-12-27
Posts: 91

Re: zap << >> sap

Sap can also be a name for a weapon along the lines of a truncheon, baton or blackjack. The OED says it’s American slang that originated with tramps (in the sense of hobos) and quotes a source saying that they are called that because they are weapons made from saplings.
It can also be a verb, so sapped means to be hit with a club.

The writer of this book has two recently imprisoned people in dialogue. One character says “We’ve both been zapped in the noggin” and another character a couple paragraphs on says “We were both sapped on the skull.” Editing error or difference in characterization?

With electrified weapons, the line between sapping and zapping grows pretty thin.

fanfic: “The last thing Kai remembered was a sharp sensation on his neck as a police officer zapped him with an electric baton.”
fanfic: “His enemy laughed at him as he then electrically sapped him with his finger.”

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#6 2013-05-02 02:50:06

DavidTuggy
Eggcornista
From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-12
Posts: 1748
Website

Re: zap << >> sap

Fairly standard in my dialect is the use of “sapped” alone to mean “very tired, exhausted”; I always understood it to be much like being “sapped of your strength”. My friends and I also back in the 60’s used “Sap!” as a mild expletive, about like “Darn!” or (my grandpa’s term) “Fiddle faddle!” (fwiw)


*If the human mind were simple enough for us to understand,
we would be too simple-minded to understand it* .

(Possible Corollary: it is, and we are .)

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