Discussions about eggcorns and related topics
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Chris -- 2011-03-08
To “turn a deaf ear” is to deliberately ignore, but a “death ear”? Many people, and some might think too many, pronounce ‘death’ as ‘deff’, but usually they would distinguish the two when spelling them. A dead ear, I suppose, would be unable to hear at all, but then the element of choosing to respond or not is missing. Dubious at best, I fear.
And though they confirm the truth about what they have done and why, many still turn a death ear. They prefer to hold on to their forefathers’ tradition and …
www.hebrewmessianic.org/law_abrogation.htm – 34k – Cached
I share this because many ears need to listen to the voice of the child and not turn a death ear. Some of us have experiences and we can see signs of others …
www.cmesonline.org/cmeforum.pl?msg=4485 – 14k – Cached
Children do and have turned a death ear to the warnings and potential dangers of the use of such substances. Among these theoretical myths is the idea that …
www.helium.com/tm/706782/government-sho … ns-endorse – 37k – Cached
... suffer and perspire in agony as the bus crawled to the terminal and the driver turning a death ear to pleas to switch on the air- con or drive faster. ...
www.airlinequality.com/Airports/Airport_forum/pvg-2.htm – 35k – Cached
Hi Peter. The eggcorn usage in your examples almost sounds as if it’s a reference to the bleak consequence (death) for not heeding a warning. Very curious.
By the way, I had previously posted on “deft ears” which I believed to be the original usage from a Shakesperian play. Although I cannot verify it, the expression “to fall on deft ears” meant that those most capable (deft) would know how to respond to critical news.
So, “to fall on deaf ears” is itself an eggcorn of the above usage. I guess that would make “a death ear” a second-generation eggcorn.
Double Eggcorn: “Fell on DEAF ears” vs. DEFT vs. deft. by jorkel Contribute! 0 2006-08-14 09:30:58 by jorkel
Hey Joe—I wasn’t able to find “deft ears” or even “deft” in Shakespeare. I used this database: http://www.it.usyd.edu.au/~matty/Shakes … search.cgi
It did return two instances of “deaf ears,” however—one in Comedy of Errors and one in Titus Andronicus.
Hmmmm… I could definitely be wrong about “deft ears”... I’ve only had a verbal source on it (two decades ago), and I’ve never pushed to find a written confirmation. It’s beginning to sound like the correct term is indeed “deaf ears.” The jokes on me it would seem. A cruel urban legend of the literati.
Last edited by jorkel (2007-11-29 14:44:26)
Joe, by way of consolation, and recollecting your ‘whirled peas’ post, there are a number of “deaf tears” with some certainly used in a poetic manner though perhaps falling a little short of the blessed William…
... night forever more Sink your teeth Into the flesh of midnight, night forever more She fell for the whispers, sister flooded deaf tears That night tore a …
edit.mp3lyrics.org/m/mars-volta/cassandra-geminni/ – 17k – Cached –
In Winter You fell to the ground like rain On deaf tears your cries met hands And knees were blistered Shoutin… In Winter Chords and Tabs …
www.music-lyrics-chord.com/Kittie/ – 27k – Cached
To futher add to the controversy, I looked it up in one of my favorite references, “The Dictionary of Clich’es” (sorry, no accent aigu key available).
“Fall on Deaf Ears”: To be ignored (of a remark or a proposal). Presumably the recipient is not deaf: he simply chooses to act that way. The advice is implicit in Walter Hylton’s Scala Perfeccionis (1440): “Make deef ere to hem as though you herde hem not.”
It’s all Greek to me.
Sari—welcome to the forum! Thanks for the reference—that makes it clear that “deaf ears” isn’t one of the many idioms that first appear in Shakespeare. And I like the idea of “making” a deaf ear.
Peter—Charming find. I like “deaf tears” a lot. Maybe these writers are more influenced by John Milton than the Bard. The phrase reminds me of JM’s famous characterization of greedy, negligent churchmen in “Lycidas” as “Blind mouths.”