Discussions about eggcorns and related topics
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Chris -- 2011-03-08
Shakespeare, recalled the well-educated Ben Jonson in his famous poetic preface to the First Folio, had “small Latin and less Greek.” Times and standards have changed. From our shifted baselines, even Shakespeare’s “small Latin” would count as a solid grounding in classical languages. A case in point: Shakespeare knew the Latin “extrēmus” and spelled his English cognate as “extreme,” despite the fact that his contemporaries were wont to use the spelling “extream.”
Shakespeare’s linguistic insight won out. Early in the eighteenth century the spelling mavens with their big Latin decreed that “extreme” was the correct spelling. Today, in our orthographically constrained era, we would put “extream” down as a phonic misspelling. Modern examples of “extream,” though, may be semantically motivated. Those who write “extream” could have wielded their nanoclassical skills to isolate the Latin prefix “ex-“ (out of, away) from the word and attach it to the AS “stream,” thinking, perhaps, about the way that the compound “mainstream” joins “main” to “stream” to denote the opposite of extreme.
Many, many examples of “extream” on the web. You can see it in the idiomatic phrases and .
Also a number of examples of the more eggsplicit “exstream:” and .
(Question: Are those us on this forum playing around with eggstream ideas or mainstream ideas?)