Discussions about eggcorns and related topics
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Chris -- 2011-03-08
As a folklorist fascinated by such misuses as are now in the eggcorn database, I had thought to create a similar database myself. I’m delighted to see that it’s already in place. I had my own name for eggcorns: dislocutions, a neologism meant to (1) appear to be an example of itself (i.e., an eggcorn), (2) suggest semantic dislocation, and (3) play on the word “locution,” which is what most or all of these are—or rather, are intended to be by their users. I’ve only done some preliminary comparisons of my and a colleague’s informal collection with the eggcorn database. I think we have collected few that aren’t already there. Nice work!
Paul Jordan-Smith, PhD
Center for the Study of Everyday Life
Yeah, I was collecting examples and thinking about a book. Not seriously, mind you, but still…..
But it’s awfully fun to have company.
I don’t have the quote exactly right, but it goes something along this line…
The credit for invention goes to those who are well-positioned to lay claim to it, and those who succeed often have the right connections and the marketing means.
I don’t recall if it was C. Wright MIlls or some historical sociologist.
I’ve often thought that Chris should put together a small book of the most entertaining eggcorns. You could have a scholarly introduction (written by Mark Liberman, natch) but enough cute examples and Thurber-esque line drawings (say, a chicken ogling with alarm a nest full of eggcorns) to sell it at Christmas.
But it might be a legal nightmare. Would the authors of examples culled from the Internet be able to demand royalties? (Or sue Chris for putting their solecisms between covers?) I guess you could make up “representative” examples. And somewhere on this site, Chris says that the rights to things published here remain with their authors. But I’d certainly be willing to assign any rights of mine to Chris if such a project ever got serious consideration.
Pat, I think the book idea would be great. Large (and medium-sized) book publishers have legal departments that sort through the royalties issues all the time. (Besides, this couldn’t be a completely unprecedented issue).
Publishers also have in-house artists that would take conceptual sketches and work them up into professional grade material, so you don’t really need to worry about contributing your own artwork.
Chris, who has an academic bent and contributes to her own website, could easily compose a query letter which convinces a literary agent that she’s the right person to author such a book. The assembly of the material could even follow the format of the Database; Even if you retain just the 200 best examples, that’s a nifty 200-page book.
The key issue will be knowing how to market the book. If you can identify the group of people most like to buy such a book—and where they are most likely to buy it—then it may have a chance at being published.– - – - – - – - – - – - –
Last edited by jorkel (2007-06-24 08:32:53)
The eggcorn phenomenom is wonderful entertainment. It lets you have a laugh at others, but more importantly, it lets you have a good laugh at yourself. Those who seem to enjoy eggcorns the most are not the fastidious, finger-wagging spell-checkers, but rather those who are interested in the rest of the story, as Paul Harvey would put it. A book like that would make a great read and a great reference.
The thing I love most about the eggcorn database is that it is NOT fingerpointing.
It’s not about “how stupid are they,” but rather about, “what is it they think they heard? How’d they get here from there?”
Sometimes I think that eggcorns are RICHER than the real idioms.
One of my favorites is the woman who posted on the message boards at OrganizedHome.com about “moving whoas”—at first I thought she was going to talk about all the things that delayed her as she was moving from one home to the other.
No, she was talking about all the difficult stuff. The woes.
But what an empowered image—someone saying the interjection “Whoa!” in wonder or awe or amazement. Instead of the weak, lamenting wrist-to-the-forehead “Woe!”
I think I prefer “moving whoas” to “moving woes.”
I want a button that says “Whoa is me!”
I actually bought the domain “ClichesGoneWrong.com” a few years back…
I have been collecting, what I think are the same as eggcorns, for about 10 years… ever since I started working for a woman who generates the most hilarious misspoken cliches during meetings.
I found this site this morning because I wanted to back up one I caught my admin saying. She says “button down the hatches” and I’ve always said “batten down the hatches”...
Everyone at my company knows I collect these in a book.
For several years I only wrote down ones that I heard personally. I would note the date, time and speaker. Now people at work bring me ones they have heard.
I don’t know that they are all eggcorns. I just found this site today so I’m still trying to decide if they are “cliches gone wrong” or if they are eggcorns or malapropisms etc.
What my boss tends to do, is not always to use the wrong word, but she tends to blend together two cliches to somehow make a new, nonsensical one.. for example:
“He was playing both sides of the fence”
I assume she was going for something like “talking out of both sides of his mouth” and “the grass is always greener” maybe? I’m not sure. But somehow it made sense to her.
Another one is:
“When the rubber hits the fan”
Which has to be a combination of “the sh** hitting the fan” and “the rubber meets the road”
Anyway… these aren’t really eggcorns… maybe I should do the cliche thing.
Welcome to the Eggcorn website, Paula.
Many of the items you describe sound like idiom blends ...which are very different from eggcorns. (You can probably go ahead and post your items on your website without concern about trampling someone else’s originality …if such a thing really exists in this language domain). Also, if you’re interested in high level discussions of language usage and reshaping, you might want to check out the Language Log website.
Feel free to browse around the Eggcorn website if you’re having trouble deciding what constitutes an eggcorn. You can run the Search option to assist you if you have particular ones to look up. (Also, check the alphabetized Database separately).
If you do want to post any eggcorns here, it helps to use it as the title of the post.