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#1 2009-12-01 10:06:38

BadAunt
Member
Registered: 2007-03-18
Posts: 4

Add salt to injury

My husband asked me to help with a translation being made from English to Japanese of an article in a Malaysian newspaper, which included the phrase “adding salt to injury.” I was hugely confused at first because I knew something was wrong with the phrase but I couldn’t figure out what it was. A couple of glasses of wine with dinner didn’t help, and nor did the fact that it actually made sense.

I am assuming “add salt to injury” is a combination/mangling/mishearing of “add insult to injury,” and “rub salt in a wound,” but I’m not sure if it qualifies as an eggcorn, since it is, according to Google (and much to my surprise), incredibly common.

According to Google:

“Add insult to injury” = 4,720,000 hits
“Add salt to injury” = 2,330,000
“adding salt to injury” = 98,400
“rub salt in the wound” = 139,000
“rub salt in a wound” = 99,300

In other words, the ‘wrong’ phrase (“add salt to injury”) gets more hits than one of the ‘correct’ phrases (“rub salt in a wound”).

Is this an eggcorn? Although it SOUNDS like “add insult to injury” and I’m assuming that’s what is how it started, it generally seems to be used to mean “rub salt in a wound” (although the meanings are so similar it is sometimes hard to tell).

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#2 2009-12-01 13:50:00

kem
Eggcornista
From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2515

Re: Add salt to injury

Yes, BadAunt, I’d call it an eggcorn. Thank you for calling it to our attention. Being a blidiom doesn’t necessarily disqualify it as an eggcorn. As long as the idiom being blended is not the sole justification for the error (i.e., If “rub salt in a wound” did not exist, a person might still say “add salt to injury.”), the eggcorn claim has some merit.

One could argue, I suppose, that adding salt to an injury might be an expression that had a life of its own, that it might not arise from the confusion with the phrase “adding insult to injury.” The lack of an article before “injury” in “adding salt to injury,” however, points to its derivation from “adding insult to injury.”

You may have noted that we have in our database a “salt->assault” eggcorn ( http://eggcorns.lascribe.net/english/45/assault/ ). It is not, in my opinion, a real eggcorn.

Last edited by kem (2009-12-01 15:15:20)


Hatching new language, one eggcorn at a time.

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#3 2009-12-01 14:08:33

jorkel
Eggcornista
Registered: 2006-08-08
Posts: 1455

Re: Add salt to injury

Pretty nice eggcorn find in my opinion. I love it when the imagery of the misheard version makes good sense.

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#4 2009-12-01 15:21:35

DavidTuggy
Eggcornista
From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-11
Posts: 2030
Website

Re: Add salt to injury

An – ing / in – eggcornosity may be involved too: adding salt may correspond not to adding insult but rather to add in(g)sult . In dialects that pronounce insult with relatively even accents (which a number of Asian Englishes probably would) or with the accent on the second syllable, this should work especially well.
.
Re the numbers, aside from my strong skepticism about Google numbers anymore, note that “rub salt in a wound” with the indefinite article is not likely to be common (you don’t rub salt indiscriminately in whatever wound happens to be handy): I would expect the most common version to be “rub(/put) salt in(/on) POSSESSOR’s wound(s)”. I don’t understand what Google does well enough to know if examples of that version would be included in your numbers.

Last edited by DavidTuggy (2009-12-01 15:35:13)


*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 2009-12-02 02:46:10

BadAunt
Member
Registered: 2007-03-18
Posts: 4

Re: Add salt to injury

The translator now wants to know the difference between ‘add insult to injury’ and ‘rub salt in a wound,’ and I have given my understanding, which is that the former is a (large) subset of the latter, and that they are often interchangeable. I cannot find any reference for this, however – it seems they are usually regarded as interchangeable. But my understanding is that the ‘insult’ idiom implies some sort of personal or intended hurt, whereas the other may be purely circumstantial. As an example of when they might not overlap:

“Just before the earthquake we had canceled our earthquake insurance. Our lives were totally disrupted, our house was damaged, and to rub salt in the wound we had to pay for all the repairs ourselves.”

In that context I would find the use of ‘add insult to injury’ a little odd. Is it just me? (And is this the wrong place to ask?)

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#6 2009-12-02 06:20:41

DavidTuggy
Eggcornista
From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-11
Posts: 2030
Website

Re: Add salt to injury

Figuratively rubbing salt in a wound is (often purposefully) adding pain to injury, whether that pain comes from insult or not. When circumstances “conspire” to frustrate us, we sometimes personify things and take the resulting pain as an insult, but generally adding insult to injury works better when the pain is psychological (a wound to one’s self-esteem being a prime case) and a person is, as you suggest, causing it and intending to do so in order to make the victim feel bad. Rubbing salt in a wound works better when the damage goes beyond hurting the victim’s psyche and may be accidental rather than purposeful. But there are a vast number of cases where the two overlap, and typically the choice depends on how the speaker wishes to construe a situation.
.
I could easily use add insult to injury in the context you mention, but I would be conscious that I would be personifying to some extent (the general situation and/or the faceless insurance company —and/or we ourselves— would be portrayed as wanting, or at least happy, to insult us), and that would be a bit odd. There would also be the irony of pretending, or at least suggesting, that the major damage caused us was to our self-esteem. I would tend to use the phrase to convey a slightly jocular flavor, or take it so if others used it.
.
In sum, I think our intuitions coincide pretty well.

Last edited by DavidTuggy (2009-12-02 06:37:15)


*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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#7 2017-06-19 12:43:28

ElizaLynne
Member
Registered: 2016-12-14
Posts: 5

Re: Add salt to injury

Just saw this again on the Facebook page of a friend: “add salt to injury” (English is a second language but they are fluent).

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