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#1 2007-09-06 02:12:19

kem
Eggcornista
From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2162

sum up the courage

Heard in the wild on 3 Sep 2007—someone said to me “if I could only sum up the courage.” A search through the bottomless archive of hasty speech turns up hundreds of hits for this eggcorn. In the immortal words of Gershwin and Van Morrison, how long has this been going on?

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#2 2007-09-06 14:33:26

AdamVero
Eggcornista
From: Leeds, UK
Registered: 2007-09-04
Posts: 66
Website

Re: sum up the courage

It sounds perfectly right at first, probably because the word-pair “sum up” is so common in its own right.
Lots of wrong ones on Google, and one using this phrase in a literally correct sense:
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_h … _n18507151


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
http://blog.meteorit.co.uk

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#3 2007-09-08 12:55:39

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

Re: sum up the courage

The fact that both “sum up” and “summon up” are rather idiomatic/standard usages helps this eggcorn all the more.

(I would also point out that it helps to point out the original phrase before mentioning the eggcorn. For a while I was wondering how “sum up” could be an eggcorn of “muster up” until I realized that the original must actually be “summon up.”)

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#4 2007-09-09 15:00:44

booboo
Eggcornista
From: Austin, Tx
Registered: 2007-04-01
Posts: 179

Re: sum up the courage

Ditto here, Joe. Hey, by the way, when you make it to 1000 posts, do you earn a new title? ....”Eggcornquistador”?

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#5 2007-09-09 15:47:09

kem
Eggcornista
From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2162

Re: sum up the courage

Sorry for not mentioning the source of the “sum up the courage” eggcorn. I had forgotten about “muster the courage.” By the way, it’s not “muster UP the courage,” is it? One doesn’t “muster up the troops”—any troops unlucky enough to get mustered are decidedly down.

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#6 2007-09-09 16:25:16

patschwieterman
Administrator
From: California
Registered: 2005-10-25
Posts: 1665

Re: sum up the courage

Interesting—I never really thought about all those optional “ups” in verb forms before. To see how often they were used, I did some googling. Here are the results:

muster the troops 6310 (71.6%)
muster up the troops 2500 (28.4%)

muster the courage 109000 (70.4%)
muster up the courage 45900 (29.6%)

summon the courage 64300 (68.3%)
summon up the courage 29800 (31.7%)

Considering that my raw data comes from Google inquiries, these results are amazingly consistent. The forms with “up” are running about 30%—a very respectable share. I imagine the figures for the “up” forms would drop if I looked at edited prose, but they’re clearly in very wide use. My guess would be that people who tend to use “up” with one of the verbs tend to use them with the other ones, too. And the same pattern applies to “up”-averse speakers.

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#7 2007-09-09 18:00:16

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

Re: sum up the courage

booboo wrote:

Hey, by the way, when you make it to 1000 posts, do you earn a new title? ....”Eggcornquistador”?

Now that would be a cool title! ...mainly because it has a certain corniness to it.

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#8 2007-09-09 22:33:02

AdamVero
Eggcornista
From: Leeds, UK
Registered: 2007-09-04
Posts: 66
Website

Re: sum up the courage

Of the various verbs here, summon seems most likely to go with “up” – perhaps because of the spiritual sense of summoning up demons, the devil etc – of course they are summoned up from ‘down there’, so the up is literal (as far as a reference to hell can be real or literal)


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
http://blog.meteorit.co.uk

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#9 2007-09-20 15:53:32

gilibug
Member
Registered: 2006-03-03
Posts: 43

Re: sum up the courage

“Rally the courage” = 12,500 hits
“Rally up the courage” = 2 hits

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#10 2007-09-21 03:57:49

patschwieterman
Administrator
From: California
Registered: 2005-10-25
Posts: 1665

Re: sum up the courage

Welcome back, Gilibug!

I was amazed by Gilibug’s numbers for “rally the courage.” It’s not a phrase you hear much, and 12.5k for a 3-word fixed string on Google is pretty darn respectable. I ran the search myself and got even more—12.6k. But—suspicious—I decided to figure out the unique hits. Guess what? That 12,600 dwindles rather startlingly to 38 hits.

That still gives “rally up the courage” a rather low percentage (about 5 %) against the other “up” phrases. But if Google gets hold of this post, the percentage will rise to about 7%. Maybe I’ll use “rally up” in a few other posts in order to achieve the 30% I’d predict.

Before I get busy manipulating my own data, this is probably a good time to remind people once again of the mounting problem of using raw Google numbers rather than unique Google hits. (I last raised the issue a few days ago in regard to Eggstatic’s post on “pure bread.”) If raw Google numbers seem too big to be true, they almost certainly are.

Last edited by patschwieterman (2007-09-21 04:01:37)

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#11 2007-09-21 22:57:53

Eggstatic
Member
Registered: 2006-10-06
Posts: 10

Re: sum up the courage

And the way to obtain the number of unique hits is to skip to the last page and take the count from there, is that right? I’ll be certain to do that in the future.

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#12 2007-09-23 04:03:41

patschwieterman
Administrator
From: California
Registered: 2005-10-25
Posts: 1665

Re: sum up the courage

Eggstatic—Yes, one way to get the unique hits for a Google search is simply to scroll to the end of the pages returned.

Of course, if you get much more than 100 hits, that can start becoming tedious. So for searches with lots of legitimate hits, another way to do it is to add the string “&start=950” (without the quotes) to the Google search URL. Let’s take the word “mind-bottling” from a recent post by Faldage as an example. If you put in “mind-bottling” at Google, the end of the search string might look like this:

search?hl=en&q=%22mind-bottling%22&btnG=Google+Search

That search gives you 24,500 hits. But if you add &start=950 to it, the end of the string will look like this:

search?hl=en&q=%22mind-bottling%22&btnG=Google+Search&start=950

That search returns only 489 hits, and some of those aren’t the eggcorn. So that demonstrates the value of looking for unique hits—the raw hit total inflates the real numbers for “mind-bottling” by over 24k.

Here’s my actual google search for “mind-bottling”:

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=%2 … gle+Search

Here’s the same search with the “unique string” added:

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=%2 … &start=950

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#13 2007-09-23 08:20:28

gilibug
Member
Registered: 2006-03-03
Posts: 43

Re: sum up the courage

Thanks, I wasn’t aware that the difference could be so dramatic!

A moment after posting that I realised that “rally the troops” would probably be a more common phrase:

786 hits for “Rally the troops”
vs
118 hits for “Rally up the troops” – that’s if I’ve correctly counted the unique hits this time!

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