Discussions about eggcorns and related topics
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Chris -- 2011-03-08
Today, I heard an editorialist on Crawford Broadcasting quote part of Patrick Henry’s famous March 23, 1775 “Give me Liberty or Give me Death” speech. The Crawford Broadcasting guy said, “If we wish to be free—if we mean to preserve inviolate those INESTEEMABLE privileges for which we have been so long contending—”
Patrick Henry actually said, “inestimable.” Inesteemable presumably means the opposite of Inestimable in this context. Or, people who say this must believe that Inesteemable means Esteemable, as Invaluable means Valuable.
Google shows twenty-five hits for Inesteemable. About half of them seem to be ignorant Eggcornish mistakes. The other half seem to be purposeful plays on the words.
Last edited by Tom Neely (2007-11-14 15:45:01)
Your post reminded me of Stellabella’s recent ‘self of steam’ for ‘self-esteem’ and I did find one hit for ‘inesteamable’ and 10 for ‘esteamable.’ I think your valuable/invaluable interpretation is probably right, though it could be that your broadcasters are suffering a similar ailment to those in the UK. Here they seem to be having great difficulty in deciding where the stresses in words should be but it seems unanimous that they should be anywhere but where they were – a topic for ‘Slips etc’ I suppose. Anyway, welcome back Tom!
Hi, Tom! I second Peter’s welcome. Good to see you’re still eggcorn-hunting.
Hey Peter! You in the UK say that your broadcasters have bad stress. So, it’s not just my American ears? Classic example: I hear English broadcasters say, “conTROversy.” I say, “CONtroversy.” Is this an example of what you are writing about?
No Tom, I enjoy and even applaud such entrenched differences and at least they are consistent. A better example would be the recent wildfires in California. Although the convention would be to shift the stress to the first syllable eg ‘WILDfires,’ for the first two days they were referred to in the media as ‘wildFIRES.’ This self-doubt about appropriate stressing seems to reflect a concern for political correctness. We have a well-loved and influential broadcaster of Caribbean ancestry who stresses in an idiosyncratic manner, as well he might, but he seems to have exerted an undue and, I’m sure, unlooked for, influence upon the rest of his profession. It’s difficult to give examples, as AmEnglish often stresses differently anyway, but ‘SPECtator,’ ‘OVERcome,’ ‘acid TEST,’ ‘REplace,’ and ‘windSCREEN wiper’ might give some idea of the sort of changes taking place.
Speaking of entrenched differences—once I thought about it, it made perfect sense that Britons wouldn’t be using “wildfires” enough to be comfortable with its stress. But as a Westerner, I was momentarily astonished at the English newscasters’ plight—I kinda wish we were similarly unfamiliar with the phenomenon. For us, that’s like not knowing where the stress on “earthquake” goes.