Discussions about eggcorns and related topics
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Chris -- 2011-03-08
Captured in the wild in a private correspondence today – Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2007.
I’m in technical planning. I’m working with a colleague from finance who is trying to explain why a deal offered by a vendor has a negative impact on our books even though it will save us a considerable chunk of cash.
I had said that if the recorded expenses (NIX) didn’t match the cash outlay then “it seems to me that the zero-sum balance equation is broken”. My colleague responded that “its [sic] a zerosome game only when you compare Nix [sic] expenses and “inducements” [author’s quotes]...” He used the word “zerosome” again in a later sentence. Clearly my colleague felt he was correcting my usage.
He would appear to have misunderstood the word “zero-sum” (having a sum of zero) as “zerosome”. I’m guessing that he sees the word as an adjective describing a thing or process as having the quality of generating zeroes, perhaps by analogy to “awesome” or “fearsome”. Or maybe something that is zerosome is supposed to make you want to use your zeroes, by analogy to “handsome” or “toothsome”.
Welcome to the Eggcorn website. That’s a nice scenario you lay out; I think it provides a convincing case for an eggcorn. Another analogous word that comes to my mind is “troublesome”—defined as “giving trouble.” So, my feel for the eggcorn “zerosome” is “tending to net out at zero.”
The only question that I have is this: both “zero-sum” and “zerosome” seem to function as adjectives, and they sound alike, so how can one tell which was uttered? Even so, the modification certainly works in written form… Here are a couple from the internet…
[PDF]Page 15 – 123 final.p65
rather than zerosome competition between these three major Asian players. This linkage between China, India and South-East Asia is founded on a deep-rooted …
indiandiaspora.nic.in/ch5.pdf – Similar pages
On Jamaat’s changed rhetoric and related issues « Mukti
We have seen the zerosome game of Jahanara Imam. Then again, we have to see all-minus-some game if there is such attempt. The country can turn into another …
jrahman.wordpress.com/2007/11/03/on-jamaats-chan… – 37k – Similar pages
http://jrahman.wordpress.com/2007/11/03 … ed-issues/
Last edited by jorkel (2007-11-27 23:41:45)
I agree that there would be little or no chance of discovering this (possible) eggcorn in verbal conversation. But I do think it’s an eggcorn in its written form. I also agree with your assessment of the likely meaning ascribed to the (possible) eggcorn “zerosome”. By analogy to “troublesome”, “fearsome” or “awesome”, the suffix ”-some” is given the meaning of generating the quality of the root (trouble, fear, awe or in this case zero).
It’s interesting that both of those net examples seem from their context to be associated with English of the Indian sub-continent. I live in the very multicultural Toronto area, and my colleague who sent me that note is also of Indian background although he speaks without (what we in this area would call) an accent.
Thanks for the site, I find it entertaining and sometimes educational. I think I came to it from “Tenser said the Tensor” but I’m not sure.
Last edited by Jonathan Gladstone (2007-11-28 10:55:29)
Just for the record, Jonathan, I’m just a regular here with no official connection to the website, but I’m sure they like to hear about your appreciation for the site. I just like to chime in a lot to assist the idea generation, but my opinions are not entirely without flaw. I’m also not sure how long it may be before eggcorns in the forum might make it into the database, so it’s best to keep one’s expectations low.