Discussions about eggcorns and related topics
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Chris -- 2011-03-08
Not to imply that we are defined by our trades and careers, but I’m extremely interested to know what some of the rest of you do (or did, for those who may be retired) for a living if anyone feels like sharing! I’m just curious as to what common threads may exist among those of us who feel the burning need to hunt for (and microscopically examine) eggcorns…not to mention our vivid interest in malapropisms, puns, slips, innovations, reshapings, etc.!
I think it’s safe to say that one may apply this attribute across the board in this forum – a “gimme,” if you will!
Last edited by Techwreck (2007-05-20 23:15:35)
Well, it would appear that one trait common to eggcorn hunters is an unwillingness to talk about themselves in a public forum.
Without outing anyone, I know that our regulars include a semi-retired engineer, a doctor, a guy who used to raise mosquitos for an entomology lab, a lawyer, and whole truckloads of teachers, tech writers, and copy editors.
I’m disabled now. In the past I’ve done ad layout and print shop work, worked for Fisher-Price, sold antiques, and was a book dealer.
My grandfather (who I never knew) and my dad both mangled words intentionally (“hand me the destructions!”), my brother and I do a for fun also, so maybe that’s where the interest came from
Last edited by Craig C Clarke (2007-05-19 00:02:06)
I’m a copyeditor for a consumer magazine.
My mother started me on this search; she began collecting them back when she was an income-maintenance worker for the state of Iowa, and one of her clients, pressed to give an exact address for her home in a town with no street names, wrote “next store to the post office.”
We’ve been collecting them ever since.
“Next store” has actually made it to the Database here: http://eggcorns.lascribe.net/english/94/store/
There’s also a link there to a Language Log article by Mark Liberman on this phrase.
I teach high-school languages (German and French), and in my free time I wonder how I can avoid teaching high-school languages. What with all the time I’ve spent in the last ten years discussing, thinking about and writing about the English language, I’ve recently been wondering whether I should write a book on it. God knows there’s enough books about English already (or maybe that should just be books, period) but it could be a funner way of making a living…
My wife is a Magyar. :) In fact, I wasn’t so interested in English per se until I went out there to teach in ‘97. I’d taken my language for granted till then, but I quickly became fascinated. Anyway, after four years teaching high-school and college English over there, I came home better educated in English—and Hungarian. Adrian
Other forums allow folks to share these tidbits in the user profile. In those forums, you can not only name your career but also identify hobbies and interests, giving a little more well-rounded picture of who you are. (I guess that’s a suggestion for consideration in due time. Or not.)
By the way, I collect my paycheck by being a technical editor, enjoy fine wines and the great outdoors, and have long been fascinated with how people interpret the world and their role in it, the extent to which their language frames that, and the extent to which their own imagery can be used to help them learn more. But then someone convinced me that no one could make even a modest living from understanding the psychology of learning, so I gave it up. So that’s what diverted me from the path that led Jakob Nielsen and the like to where they are today. (Not that I necessarily would have gotten there, just that I let myself get bumped off that path far too early to know for sure.)
Last edited by huevomaiztro (2007-07-09 18:44:55)
I’m a computer programmer, and in fact should be working on a web application right now. I’m slacking off. I’ve studied several languages to some extent, and French to a fair extent. Along the way, I developed an interest in language more generally. I occasionally read the writings of Jakob Nielsen (mentioned above by the egg-master). I also play guitar and piano.
I’m the lawyer Pat mentioned. I’ve been a law professor, too – exams are a great source of eggcorns, as all teachers know. I’ll bet most of the people who post here regularly, like Dadge, have had their linguistic consciousness raised by exposure to several languages. My paternal grandparents were almost monolingual in Yiddish, so I had more exposure to Yiddish growing up than most Jews of my generation, although I don’t speak it. I studied Spanish for six years and use it a great deal professionally, lived in Israel long enough to become fairly competent in Hebrew, and studied Greek all through college. I’ve taught myself some French, Italian and Catalan – not hard after Spanish. This sort of background makes one very conscious of etymologies. I had a tiny thrill lately when it dawned on me that the Spanish “azucena” (lily), from Arabic, was cognate with the Hebrew “shoshana” and thus with our “Susannah.”I also had the unusual experience of helping a friend of mine to adopt a profoundly deaf girl from Bulgaria. She was almost five years old, very bright, but had no language at all. She is now eight and has become quite fluent in ASL (I wish I could say the same). Having had a cochlear implant she is beginning to speak a little, as well as read and write in English. Watching her progress has been fascinating and has also changed some of my ideas about language. For example, I used to think that the idea that language may have begun with sign rather than speech was silly. Now I’m not so sure.
INFP on the Myers-Briggs.
Studied Spanish, Latin, and German. Wish I had known my grandfather longer; he died when I was 2, but spoke eight languages. Which eight is lost to the years, but Serbo-Croatian, French, German, English, probably Greek, and possibly Turkish were among them—that covers a lot of bases!
I’m a firefighter and house painter/repairman here in Austin. I came here in ‘76 to study art and photography at U.T. I ultimately graduated from the Film Dept. I pursued music but mainly my wife, when I met her. She and my four beautiful daughters are the ones with amazing linguistic abilities(they are having tons of vicarious fun from my endeavors here). Most of the fun we have with language usually starts with some mistake I make. That’s okay, it just makes the times I am right more exciting.
I took some intro to the psychology of language classes and French, but I think, as many of you have posted, it’s really my fascination with human nature that piques my curiosity for subjects like eggcorns. I like to understand how people think and act. Eggcorns, I think, provide a very interesting insight into the human conciousness. They provide a little peek into the mental connections we make with all the information we get. They show the reasonableness of that process, even if it does get us to the wrong end of the maze! What a metaphor of life. And hey, if you can have some humor along the way, you’re a truly blessed person. That’s what eggcorns are to me and I hope that’s what I can bring to this website.
Last edited by booboo (2007-07-10 13:46:13)
I think Pat (at #4 above) made the most salient observation about eggcorn hunters- they don’t much talk about themselves. I’m like that too; I just don’t see why my personality would be of interest to others. But since I have another point to make, I’ll give out the basics- I’m the doctor Pat mentioned. Contrary to hypothesis,and much to my regret, I have no experience as an editor or teacher of literature, no formal training in linguistics, and no particular knack for languages. (My lineage is peppered with savant-level linguists and musicians, but I was skipped. On the other hand, I’ve got degrees in math, physics and computer science, so perhaps I merely took a turn to formal rather than natural languages.)My line of work inclines me to look for neurological explanations for behavior, which made Jorkel’s speculation about the Myers-Briggs classification of eggcornologists catch my eye. (I have to say, I’m not fond of the Myers-Briggs scheme. That’s partly because of its roots in Jungian typology, which ties it into Jung’s creepy racial and religious biases, More importantly, it has relatively little empirical backing. The Five Factor or ‘’Ocean’ model of personality has a lot more going for it [‘Ocean’ is an acronym for the 5 factors: Openness to experience, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism] But I’ll stick to the Myers-Briggs because it’s popular and online tests for it are easily found.).
I’m an INTP. I’d bet most of us are ‘P’ (i.e., non-judgmental), but I think that’s an artifact of the curious, open-minded, playful and non-prescriptivist leanings of Chris W. and her friends at ‘Language Log,’ our conceptual forefathers.I’d also agree with Jorkel that most of us are ‘N’ on the second dimension, which contrasts mediated and unmediated perceptual styles. You need the latter to generate the metacognitions that an eggcorn hunter- or any linguist- works from. (Another thing I dislike about the Myers Briggs classification is that it gets this mixed up with introversion. The usual traits we associate with introversion- shyness, social ineptitude,etc.- are probably epiphenomena of the mediated perceptual style. I doubt that the four Myers-Briggs variables are orthogonal.)
Of course, this is guesswork. I’d like to invite everyone here to take the Myers-Briggs, post your results, and let’s see what we come up with.
I came up ENTJ, which means you’re all my bitches. Stand by for further instructions…....
Crap, my mistake, I’m an ENFJ…where do my beatings take place?
I seem to be the only regular who’s said nowt on this so far and coyness isn’t one of my usual afflictions, so… I’ve worked in a variety of roles and settings, but mainly in training/social work/ teaching. Currently I teach Art and do some Music therapy but a complete change is long overdue. I’m a reluctant monoglot but appear to have no flair for tongues including that into which I was born; schoolboy French and Latin are all but forgotten and my enthusiastic skirmishes with Norwegian and Welsh have left me wiser but still mute. Moreover there is no trace of any savant among my known kith and kin, though this is balanced by an equal and welcome lack of idiots.
As a former admirer of Jung I dipped into an online Myers-Briggs with some distaste, to find I’m 76% ISFP and 73% INFP and apparently I can choose whichever one I like. Neither of them, I’m pleased to note, have any desire to bash booboo.
INFP with 100% F. Oy! Am I a mark or what?
IT consultant and trainer, ex-programmer.
No idea about Myers-Brigg but I am am a pedantic anlytical person. I used to work tag-team with a sales person who would introduce me as his “attention to detail guy”. Pretty much true.
Studied French for 6 years at school, Latin for 2 and German for 3. Now married to a German, but still nowhere near fluent.
I have a personal amateur interest in language and linguistics (I even began writing a horribly over-ambitious natural-language parsing AI program while still at school. Got stuck after “I am”). I suppose I just want to formalise the rules of any system, even one as resistant to this approach as an evolved human language. I have less musical talent than a deaf (or indeed dead) hedgehog in a bag.
Despite wanting to understand the rules of the language(s) we use, I accept that these change over time, and sticking to the past for the sake of someone else’s opinion is (in the words of Winston Churchill, supposedly) “the sort of arrant nonsense up with which I will not put”.
I am intrigued about this member:
“a guy who used to raise mosquitos for an entomology lab”
Does his brother, a professor of etymology spend his free time on the “InsectNews” forums?
(I’m not doubting that he may be an entomologist, I just like the tiny possibility that someone could end up at an eggcorn forum through mis-spelling of a Google search for their favourite topic)
Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day; teach a man to fish and he will buy a ridiculous hat – Scott Adams (author of Dilbert)
Build a man a fire and he will be warm for a day; set a man on fire and he will be warm for the rest of his life – Terry Pratchett
I think to be a true EGGCORN hunter (as opposed to a grammar nitpicker, or a snide judger of other people’s deficiencies), you have to have a sense of humor, a little bit of imagination, and a wilingness to believe that someone who has made a mistake, is actually NOT an idiot and thought they did it right!
To hunt an eggcorn, you have to be willing to think of someone else’s apparent “mistake” as a possible improvement—or at the very least, an acceptable alternative.
That’s the first step to figuring out WHY they did it.
I’m gonna go look at that Language Log posting on “next store”—thanks for the link.
The funny thing is that the woman who wrote it on the form at my mom’s office, lived in a former retail building on the town’s former “town square.”
This thread has been idly dangling for a while, but I’ll attempt a frayed knot anyway.
Since retiring, I noodle around on the piano and dabble in abstract art when I’m not busy driving my wife crazy or teasing the cats (or vice versa). I have occasionally worked as an adjunct instructor of college physics and math. Before retiring, I was an engineer cranking out machine language software for flight simulators, factory automation, disc drives and so on.
As a student, I majored in applied math (there were no undergraduate computer science degree programs at the time). When I was an idealistic freshman, I majored in music performance (tuba), flunked out and got drafted, which greatly enhanced my awareness of the diversity of American folk etymologies. I studied Spanish in high school. Later in life crammed just enough Czech to sound like a dumb tourist. I’ve since forgotten most of what little I knew about both languages.
More recently, my dormant interest in linguistics was rekindled by numerous lengthy conversations with a former neighbor who was writing a dissertation for his PhD in linguistics. My current fascination with eggcorns owes to the curious convergence of my amateur interest in linguistics and my re-enforced awareness of the slippage in public education. I’m also intrigued by philosophical ideas about emergent phenomena, of which the eggcorn is a prime example. I almost forgot to mention my unrepentant love of puns and malapropisms.
Being fresh from a brief out-o-town get-a-way, I thought I’d hazard a Myers-Briggs test-drive. Lo, I’m an INTJ! That explains why I have difficulty maintaining a neutral and non-judgmental point of view. Wow, no perceptiveness, eh? Is that why I don’t seem to be able to discover good eggcorns (or any, for that matter)? I’m still having lots of fun trying.
INTP, though I’ve occasionally tested near INTJ. A lot of us INT’s, who I understand are pretty rare birds: 1% of the population each or something?
Grew up speaking both English and Spanish in a family that (several generations of us) loved word play. I have, for 25 years or so, been systematically collecting what I call “orthinologies” (cf. “We spent the whole summer in Florida word-botching”), and have over 15K entries in my databases. It’d be fun to go through and decide which ones are eggcornish in what degree, but I haven’t time/energy to do it systematically. My immediate family have contributed many of those bloopers.
A linguist by training, live in Mexico and study Nahuatl and help Nahuatl speakers develop ways to use their language more fully. Lots of practical (applied) linguistics, but a reasonable amount of theoretical stuff too. My motto as a theorist is “Usually it will turn out that Grandma was right about that.”) A lot of my colleagues have contributed to the orthinology collection as well. (Grandma was the one who observed, philosophically, about a dog of obviously mixed parentage, “Well, that one just occurred.”) Have taught a good bit, mostly at college level.
Know a bit of Koiné Greek and smidgens of German, Latin, and a few other things.
I can’t remember numbers long enough to avoid having to look at a phone number 3 times while dialing it. (I always got good grades in math, as long as it didn’t have any arithmetic in it.) But misspellings and typos jump off the page at me. (Unless of course I wrote them, and am proofreading what I wrote …)
I love classical music, play the piano some (once I learned Chopin’s 3rd Ballade, but I’d never play it in public), have played trumpet reasonably well. (Used to play 2-trumpet concertos with a friend who played tuba, like Roger I guess.) Enjoy choral singing.
Love building things with my hands, even doing mechanics (though I’m not very good at it. It runs strong in the family, however.) Computer stuff is generally fun. Read incessantly: the labels on the cleanser can in the bathroom if nothing else is available. Can cry over some poetry, other leaves me cold. Totally reprehensible taste for bad puns.
Married, 5 grown up kids scattered from Thailand to South Carolina, 6 grandkids. Mom and 9 siblings and a dozen-odd cousins still around. (Odd in both senses of the term, and not just the cousins, no doubt.)
Last edited by DavidTuggy (2008-06-25 23:08:24)
*If the human mind were simple enough for us to understand,
we would be too simple-minded to understand it* .
Nice to see this thread resurrected, esp. since we seem to have a new crop of regulars now. I’m an INFP, like a few others here. I have worked as an editor, proofreader, copyeditor, both as an employee and as a freelancer. I also did a stint at Starbucks, which pushed the boundaries of my introversion (but I continued working in publishing also during that time).
Like someone else here related (sorry, can’t remember who it was), my father, who was not college educated but was curious and interested and loved to read, LOVED to play with words, saying “chork pops” for pork chops, etc., and I inherited his love of spoonerisms and of words themselves. He taught me to read at a very early age by helping me sound out words; I can remember sitting in the car in the Kroger (grocery store) parking lot sounding out signs with him while my mother shopped.
I’m a musician, sometime composer, and occasional singer, and am happily partnered. I do a great deal of freelance proofreading and copyediting. I’m always a bit mystified by the linguistic terms many of you throw out, though I’m enjoying learning more about linguistics from you. I’m here more for the love of words than anything else, which is reflected in some of my postings, such as the one about “Words you read and understood…”
Last edited by JonW719 (2008-06-26 18:11:56)
Feeling quite combobulated.
We are a closed-mouth bunch, aren’t we? At least when it comes to autobiography and pictures.
Members of this forum would have no problem tracking me down. My electronic footprints go way back-I was diddling with the internet a decade before Time Magazine discovered it in 1995. This, added to the fact that I own a one-off name, means that it’s hard to hide in the digital bushes. I fantasize a lot about setting up a false internet identity and living in it for the rest of my life, but for now anyone who can type “Kem Luther” into a Google search box can find me. Most of the 200 ghits are me or someone pretending to be me.
From the age of six to the age of forty-five I was enrolled somewhere as a student. Here and there I was mailed a diploma. The academic degree most relevant to this forum is one in classics. I have worked with several dead languages—Latin and classical Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic. I can do basic human stuff (order meals, find the bathroom, read Nietzsche) in French, German and Spanish. Which only leaves me 9994 ancient and modern languages to learn. Gotta get cracking.
I was born in the U.S, but moved to Canada as a young man. I’ve lived in Nebraska, Illinois, Wisconsin, Virginia, Ontario and British Columbia. I spent most of my employed years teaching in colleges and universities (philosophy and computer science) or doing college admin. Fifteen years ago I discovered that I liked to write non-academic pieces. Now I spend most of my time writing large books and editing them down to small articles. When I’m not writing, I’m groveling before publishers and agents, trying to get them to look at my stuff.
The real me, though, is not well defined by the sort of entries you find on a CV. I’m deeply embedded in a family context-I live on an acre of lush Vancouver Island farmland with a group of seven other people to whom I am related by marriage, blood or adoption. I’ve been married to a musician for forty years and we have two grown daughters. I think we are a functional family, but now and then I begin to have doubts. My wife won’t let me hang my diplomas on our wall, for example, and my children won’t friend me in Facebook. I spend a lot of time with my five-year old grandson, Finn, who has no issues with his Grandpa, and we talk and talk and talk. The company of adults is greatly overrated.
Last edited by kem (2008-06-27 12:50:38)
Random facts: I’m a librarian who rarely finishes a book, and I’m also a Columbia Teachers College grad student who should be researching a paper that is due very soon. I procrastinate and perseverate beyond belief. I’m a Francophile. I ask questions that shouldn’t be asked at the dinner table.
Oh, and I think I deserve some sort of recognition for seemingly being the only one out here to post an avatar.