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Chris -- 2015-05-30

#1 2015-09-28 14:41:44

kem
Eggcornista
From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2565

new book, mostly eggcorns

A new illustrated book has just appeared from a Macmillan subdivision that draws deeply from our Database and Forum posts. it is called Going to Hell in a Henbasket, witten by Robert Alden Rubin. You can see excerpts from it here.

Most of the entries in the book are our eggcorns. Some are malaprops discussed on this site.


Hatching new language, one eggcorn at a time.

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#2 2015-09-28 15:08:13

David Bird
Eggcornista
From: Montréal, QC
Registered: 2009-07-28
Posts: 1527

Re: new book, mostly eggcorns

By the looks of it, there is still room for other books based on the treasure grove that this forum represents. I keep expecting one of the eggcornistas to put one together.

Last edited by David Bird (2017-01-18 12:26:20)

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#3 2017-01-15 16:41:33

kem
Eggcornista
From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2565

Re: new book, mostly eggcorns

We now have our second eggcorn book from a major publisher in as many years. It is The African Svelte: Ingenious Misspellings That Make Surprising Sense by Daniel Menaker, drawings by Roz Chast (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016).

This new effort shows a closer familiarity with the Forum than Rubin’s book does. In the Introduction, Menaker says “A group blog called the Language Log, and another, the Eggcorn Forum—which is among the funniest, most thoughtful, and most authoritative examples of Internet verbal error sites—lists subgroups of language errors, almost to the point of emulating particle physics, with its never-ending supply of new tinynesses, each importantly different from the other. In the credits at the end, he tips his hat to “the Eggcorn Forum—a kind of outgrowth of the Language Log—originated and brilliantly supervised by Christ Waigl.”

Menaker’s book gives us about hundred examples, many fewer than Rubin’s 600. But his discussions tend to be longer, as you might imagine.

Both books are a fun read. Participants of this forum will find more of what they enjoy here. You will not find many entries in these books that have not been discussed on the Database or in the Forum, however. There are a few words and phrases, though, that have not crossed our pages, and, as I have time and inspiration, I’ll mention some of these in this thread. Other Forum users who have access to one or both of these books, please jump in.

You should also be aware that both authors, though they take the concept of an eggcorn as their point of departure, have included in their lists a number of examples that are not eggcorns. They do not usually note these divergences in their discussions. In their defense, though, is the fact that they do not claim to be publishing nothing but eggcorns. Note Rubin’s use of “modern malapropisms” in his title. Menaker actually calls his eggcorns “sveltes” (an eggcorn of “veldt” and used in his book’s title). He bases the distinction between “svelte” and “eggcorn” on whether or not they are print based (sveltes) or occur in spoken conversation (eggcorns). While this distinction will not bear much weight, it does allows Menaker to have his own neologism and, with it, the right to dictate what counts and what does not count as a svelte.


Hatching new language, one eggcorn at a time.

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#4 2017-01-16 05:38:37

Dixon Wragg
Eggcornista
From: Cotati, California
Registered: 2008-07-04
Posts: 1229

Re: new book, mostly eggcorns

kem wrote:

”...originated and brilliantly supervised by Christ Waigl.”

Hallelujah!

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#5 2017-01-17 14:44:13

kem
Eggcornista
From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2565

Re: new book, mostly eggcorns

The first new-to-us eggcorn that we can extract from Daniel Menaker’s book is the one in the title of his book; “svelte” for “veldt.”

It passes the five tests for an eggcorn:

(1) Syntactical: It’s occurrence in the idiom “African Svelte” makes it almost certain that the user is not applying the word “svelte” in the normal process of phrase building (e.g. “a svelte figure”). In addition, “svelte” is an adjective and would not normally occur in a noun slot, suggesting the influence of a sound-alike noun.
(2) Phonological: “svelte” inserts an /s/ phoneme. Phoneme insertions are a much less common way of forming eggcorns than phoneme deletions. And /s/ is not a typical insert. Still, we do have one other example—“holster top” for “halter top.”
(3) Semantic: The meaning of “svelte” as “smooth” transits nicely to the flat veldt, the open grasslands of southern Africa.
(4) Not another category: “African Svelte” is not a mondegreen, spoonerism, or folk etymology. It is an unlikely silicism (anticipation error, typo, cupertino, etc).
(5) Vocabulary uptake: There are dozens of examples of “African Svelte” on the web that are replacements of “African Veldt.” Several occur in recent subsidy-published books. For example:

Book by Sage Publishers “The high southern and eastern plateaus include the South African svelte and the Kalahari Desert.”

I’d call it an eggcorn, grade A.


Hatching new language, one eggcorn at a time.

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#6 2017-01-24 12:27:02

kem
Eggcornista
From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2565

Re: new book, mostly eggcorns

Another “eggcorn” in the Menaker book is “from the gecko” for “from the get-go.” It is a common slip. I agree with Chris, though. The semantics are unclear. In my opinion, it fails test (3) in my post above.

Sometimes, I think, we reach a bit too far in the Forum-and I mean “we” literally, not regally: I’m as guilty as the next person-in trying to find plausible semantic connections. Speakers have less awareness of this than we imagine. In a small town near me is a road called Townsend Road that is near the edge of the settlement. I wonder what people think when they see the street sign—do they see a surname (“Peter Townsend”) or a geographical description (“town’s end”)? Most of the locals, I suspect, see neither. The individual semantics of ordinary words, especially ones that are in frequent use, have a way of disappearing in the larger matrix of meaning. On a trip to the city where she grew up, my wife drove by her old primary school, Lorne Avenue Public, and noticed for the first time in her life that the name of the school contained the name of the street on which it was located. Her six-year old self had packaged the school’s name as the four-syllable Lorneavenue. It took her adult self to unwrap the package. Those of us who spend a lot of time puzzling over words can too easily assume that others find the same embedded and meanings that we do.


Hatching new language, one eggcorn at a time.

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#7 2017-01-24 13:52:07

Dixon Wragg
Eggcornista
From: Cotati, California
Registered: 2008-07-04
Posts: 1229

Re: new book, mostly eggcorns

kem wrote:

Sometimes, I think, we reach a bit too far in the Forum…in trying to find plausible semantic connections. Speakers have less awareness of this than we imagine.

But conscious awareness is not necessary for an eggcornish meaning connection. It seems self-evident to me that our word choices are often informed by sound and meaning associations that are below the threshold of conscious attention. In my poetry, my words are often chosen to evoke images, feelings and layers of meaning that may bypass explicit conscious awareness. When successful, this can evoke certain moods and, by extension, behaviors—including the generation of eggcorns triggered by semantic connections which the perp never clearly cognized.

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#8 2017-01-25 18:46:59

kem
Eggcornista
From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2565

Re: new book, mostly eggcorns

But conscious awareness is not necessary for an eggcornish meaning connection. It seems self-evident to me that our word choices are often informed by sound and meaning associations that are below the threshold of conscious attention.

I wonder about this. Permitting deeply subconscious motivations to fulfill the semantic requirement of an eggcorn threatens to turn all sound-based malapropisms into eggcorns, since we can always find some association, however tenuous, between the meaning of an acorn and the meaning of its candidate eggcorn. What we can’t know in these situations is whether a substantial number of those who have adopted a soundalike substitution into their vocabulary actually take one of the obscure paths that we identify. Eggcorns of the sort that we deal with in the Database and Forum seem to require a false etymology component—the eggcorner not only has to use the eggcorn regularly, she also has to have some misplaced justification for using it. Which would require some level of conscious usage.


Hatching new language, one eggcorn at a time.

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#9 2017-01-25 19:52:08

kem
Eggcornista
From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2565

Re: new book, mostly eggcorns

But conscious awareness is not necessary for an eggcornish meaning connection. It seems self-evident to me that our word choices are often informed by sound and meaning associations that are below the threshold of conscious attention.

I wonder about this. Permitting deeply subconscious motivations to fulfill the semantic requirement of an eggcorn threatens to turn all sound-based malapropisms into eggcorns, since we can always find some association, however tenuous, between the meaning of an acorn and the meaning of its candidate eggcorn. What we can’t know in these situations is whether a substantial number of those who have adopted a soundalike substitution actually take one of the obscure paths that we identify. Eggcorns of the sort that we deal with in the Database and Forum seem to require a false etymology component—the eggcorner not only has to use the eggcorn regularly, she also has to have some misplaced justification for using it. Which would require some level of conscious usage.

Last edited by kem (2017-01-25 19:52:46)


Hatching new language, one eggcorn at a time.

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#10 2017-01-29 18:28:07

kem
Eggcornista
From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2565

Re: new book, mostly eggcorns

Menaker’s third eggcorn, “sobbing wet” for “sopping wet,” appears to have escaped our notice (though the Database does include “soaping wet”). Kinda makes sense—the signs of a sobbing soul can soak the serious sobber. (Try saying that 10 times fast). And the web has lots of examples.


Hatching new language, one eggcorn at a time.

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#11 2017-02-05 17:57:55

kem
Eggcornista
From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2565

Re: new book, mostly eggcorns

Menaker’s sixth eggcorn (?) is “kneed in” for “knead in.” The justification? The two words “share a physically vigorous, not to say aggressive, even violent, meaning.” Seems like a bit of a reach.


Hatching new language, one eggcorn at a time.

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