Discussions about eggcorns and related topics
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Chris -- 2011-03-08
According to this website, Ann Landers ran an article on History According to Students.
http://www.hometheaterforum.com/htf/sho … p?t=118594
The following is reproduced from the site above, and I have converted relevant eggcorns and malapropisms into bold print. I may have missed a few.
Mistakes made by students and selected by teachers over many years. The students involved were American, in the 8th grade through to college (i.e. 14-20 years old).
Ancient Egypt was inhabited by mummies and they all wrote in hydraulics. They lived in the Sarah Dessert and traveled by Camelot. The climate of the Sarah is such that the inhabitants have to live elsewhere.
Moses led the Hebrew slaves to the Red Sea, where they made unleavened bread which is bread made without any ingredients. Moses went up on Mount Cyanide to get the ten commandments. He died before he ever reached Canada.
Solomom had three hundred wives and seven hundred porcupines. The Greeks were a highly sculptured people, and without them we wouldn’t have history. The Greeks also had myths. A myth is a female moth.
Actually, Homer was not written by Homer but by another man of that name.
Socrates was a famous Greek teacher who went around giving people advice. They killed him. Socrates died from an overdose of wedlock. After his death, his career suffered a dramatic decline.
In the Olympic games, Greeks ran races, jumped, hurled the biscuits, and threw the java.
Eventually, the Romans conquered the Greeks. History calls people Romans because they never stayed in one place for very long.
Julius Caesar extinguished himself on the battlefields of Gaul. The Ides of March murdered him because they thought he was going to be made king. Dying, he gasped out: “Tee hee, Brutus.”
Nero was a cruel tyranny who would torture his subjects by playing the fiddle to them.
Joan of Arc was burnt to a steak and was cannonized by Bernard Shaw.
Finally Magna Carta provided that no man should be hanged twice for the same offense.
In midevil times most people were alliterate. The greatest writer of the futile ages was Chaucer, who wrote many poems and verses and also wrote literature.
Another story was William Tell, who shot an arrow through an apple while standing on his son’s head.
Queen Elizabeth was the Virgin Queen. As a queen she was a success. When she exposed herself before her troops they all shouted “Hurrah”.
It was an age of great inventions and discoveries. Gutenberg invented removable type and the Bible. Another important invention was the circulation of blood.
Sir Walter Raleigh is a historical figure because he invented cigarettes and started smoking.
Sir Francis Drake circumcised the world with a 100 foot clipper.
The greatest writer of the Renaissance was William Shakespeare. He was born in the year 1564, supposedly on his birthday. He never made much money and is famous only because of his plays. He wrote tragedies, comedies, and hysterectomies, all in Islamic pentameter. Romeo and Juliet are an example of a heroic couplet. Romeo’s last wish was to be laid by Juliet.
Writing at the same time as Shakespeare was Miguel Cervantes. He wrote Donkey Hote. The next great author was John Milton. Milton wrote Paradise Lost. Then his wife died and he wrote Paradise Regained.
During the Renaissance America began. Christopher Columbus was a great navigator who discovered America while cursing about the Atlantic. His ships were called the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Fe.
Later, the Pilgrims crossed the ocean, and this was called Pilgrim’s Progress. The winter of 1620 was a hard one for the settlers. Many people died and many babies were born. Captain John Smith was responsible for all this.
One of the causes of the Revolutionary War was the English put tacks in their tea. Also, the colonists would send their parcels through the post without stamps. Finally the colonists won the War and no longer had to pay for taxis.
Delegates from the original 13 states formed the Contented Congress. Thomas Jefferson, a Virgin, and Benjamin Franklin were two singers of the Declaration of Independence. Franklin discovered electricity by rubbing two cats backwards and declared, “A horse divided against itself cannot stand.” Franklin died in 1790 and is still dead.
Soon the Constitution of the United States was adopted to secure domestic hostility. Under the constitution the people enjoyed the right to keep bare arms.
Abraham Lincoln became America’s greatest Precedent. Lincoln’s mother died in infancy, and he was born in a log cabin which he built with his own hands. Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves by signing the Emasculation Proclamation. On the night of April 14, 1865, Lincoln went to the theater and got shot in his seat by one of the actors in a moving picture show. The believed assinator was John Wilkes Booth, a supposingly insane actor. This ruined Booth’s career.
Meanwhile in Europe, the enlightenment was a reasonable time. Voltaire invented electricity and also wrote a book called Candy. Gravity was invented by Issac Walton. It is chiefly noticeable in the autumn when the apples are falling off the trees.
Johann Bach wrote a great many musical compositions and had a large number of children. In between he practiced on an old spinster which he kept up in his attic. Bach died from 1750 to the present. Bach was the most famous composer in the world and so was Handel. Handel was half German half Italian and half English. He was very large.
Beethoven wrote music even though he was deaf. He was so deaf he wrote loud music. He took long walks in the forest even when everyone was calling for him. Beethoven expired in 1827 and later died for this.
Well, I looked over the provided text and concluded that most of the slip-ups fall in the malapropism category—largely because kids don’t know they are substituting one word for another. I will try elaborate on the few that I would consider eggcorns. Analysis by Joe Krozel.
1. Biscuits/ Discus
In the Olympic games, Greeks ran races, jumped, hurled the biscuits, and threw the java.
Here, it’s conceivable that a kid would believe that biscuits are literally hurled in a sport. (By contrast, I do not believe a kid would understand the term “java”—and if he did, a kid would certainly not believe that anyone would throw it as a sport).
2. Romans ...”Roamans?”
History calls people Romans because they never stayed in one place for very long.
Here, the writer explains that a “Roman” is a person named for their tendency to roam. (Can it still be an eggcorn if there isn’t a spelling change? I say, “yes.”)
3. Burnt to a steak/ at the stake
Joan of Arc was burnt to a steak
I’m prone to believe that a kid could imagine a person resembling a steak upon being burned. (Sorry for getting graphic here).
In midevil times…
I had already concluded this to be an eggcorn in another post. (See my comments there). Incidentally, this is how I accidentally stumbled upon the current text.
The greatest writer of the futile ages was Chaucer
Children can easily come away with the notion that Medieval times were “midevil” and that feudal times were futile. Since times were so hard back then, any effort must have seemed futile.
6. Removable/movable type
Gutenberg invented removable type
Although it is properly referred to as “movable type” the notion that the type is “removable” isn’t far off from the truth since individual letters on the press can be moved—and yes, removed—as needed. An eggcorn, but perhaps not a very profound one.
7. Islamic/iambic pentameter
He wrote tragedies, comedies, ... , all in Islamic pentameter
Iambic pentameter is a foreign enough concept for a kid. And, if the kid had been exposed to the short and long stress marks used to meter out the syllables of a poem—pardon my clumsiness with the description here—they might actually think they look like Islamic writing in Arabic. Just a speculation.
One of the causes of the Revolutionary War was the English put tacks in their tea.
A child might not understand the concept of a tax, but when someone puts tacks in your tea, that’s plenty enough reason to go to war.
Finally the colonists won the War and no longer had to pay for taxis.
Same comment as 8a… “Taxis” are a much more tangible concept to a kid than “taxes.”
9. Backwards/ back-to-back?
Franklin discovered electricity by rubbing two cats backwards
Presumable, the cat (pelts?) were rubbed back-to-back to generate charge. I guess that’s “backwards!”
10. Bear/bare arms
Under the constitution the people enjoyed the right to keep bare arms.
This would be a simple misspelling if it were not for the word “keep.” The child clearly understands the concept of “keep(ing) one’s arms bare” more keenly than “bear(ing) arms.”
Last edited by jorkel (2006-10-23 14:19:29)
I took another pass at the text, and eggcorns just keep coming out…
A myth is a female moth.
This is half-way to being an eggcorn because the utterer does us the favor of defining the eggcorn term—and quite succinctly. Unfortunately, what is missing here is the context. What particular myth (or discussion about myths) might have engendered this misconception? Without that, no eggcorn.
12. Sculptured/ cultured
The Greeks were a highly sculptured people, and without them we wouldn’t have history.
I missed this one the first time through because I didn’t realize that “sculptured” was replacing “cultured.” This is an obvious eggcorn because of the existence of Greek sculptures and because “sculptures” are so much more, shall I say, concrete than “cultures” are to kids.
13. cannonized/ canonized
Joan of Arc … was cannonized by …
Not sure about this one. It might just be a misspelling unless the kid believes that Joan of Arc was shot through a cannon. I don’t know for sure, but that’s what I suspect.
14. porcupines/ concubines
Solomom had three hundred wives and seven hundred porcupines.
Clearly, a kid hears the word “concubines,” doesn’t know what it means, and replaces it with the only word that makes sense: “porcupines.” As far as a kid is concerned, other cultures are simply bizarre, and someone might actually have the need for seven hundred porcupines. But, let’s approach this from a different angle: this is more that just a malapropism because the utterer understands and truly believes the sense of the word he has chosen. Hence, its an eggcorn.
15. horse/ house
Franklin … declared, “A horse divided against itself cannot stand.”
The quote works whether it applies to a horse or a house. But to a kid, it more readily makes sense to think that a horse (rather than a house) cannot stand for whatever reason.
With this kind of material, there’s always the question of its authenticity. Did this stuff really come from young students writing seriously, or is some or all of it jokes made by adults? A similarly popular page of “Bad Analogies Written by High School Students” which has been circulating on the ‘Net for years is actually a page of winners from a 1995 Washington Post Style Invitational contest. So mining such stuff from the ‘Net for real eggcorns is chancy.