Discussions about eggcorns and related topics
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Chris -- 2011-03-08
1 ... as I call them, i.e. “pink posts” or “pink poles”, from a pun or non-standard form of the idiom “découvrir le pot aux roses”. Mark Liberman explains it better than I’ve ever done in English.
[CW: This was not posted by me but by Gordon, who hit “report this post”—an button that is meant for offensive posts and spam—instead of “post reply”. I’ll see if I can move it to his user name.]
Even though Mark Liberman in his Language Log posting of July 22 http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/language … 02350.html correctly characterized /poteau roses/ as part of the
bq. French idiom /découvrir le pot aux roses/, literally “discover (or uncover) the rose pot”, used to mean “to find out what’s going on” or “to accidentally uncover a scandal”. ...
I’d differ mildly with the idea that:
bq. ... the role of the rose pot in this idiom is fairly opaque … .
As Chris notes,
bq. TLF and the Robert Historique de la Langue Française agree that the original meaning was récipient contenant de l’essence de roses, i.e. a recipient for rose essence or perfume.
The authorities may choose to present the most delicate interpretation, but the idiomatic usage probably would be better but more loosely translated as a reference to—merde alors!—a “honey-bucket”, which of course reeks other-wise. Prof. Liberman’s citation of the French idiom’s ultimate translation is accurate (of course!), but the idiom is simply an ironic opposite reference.
Last edited by Chris Waigl (2005-10-28 03:01:00)
Here’s a link to a list I’ve started of eggcorns in Hebrew, for those of you who read the language:
I call them פטפוטי ביצים, pronounced “pit-poo-TEY bey-TZEEM”. Spelled correctly, this phrase is an archaic synonym for “scrambled eggs”, and is used in similar contexts to the English “hogwash”. Spelled incorrectly, the phrase means “egg chatter” or possibly “bollocks chatter”, which I think makes more sense, no?
gilibug, this is great! Now that I think of it, Hebrew, with its wild plenty of homophones, is probably the best breeding ground for eggcorns anywhere, at least until someone comes up with a Chinese eggcorn collection.
In Spanish there is a smaller number of sounds that can be confused, but people manage to confuse them quite a bit, considering. So we definitely need a word for this…
My literary-minded and highly intelligent South American husband suffers from what he calls “horrores de ortografía” (“spelling horrors”, for “spelling errors” ... with the added meaning of “errors, only worse!”). I wonder if that would fit? I think a variation is “horrorgrafía” (for ortografía), but not sure if I am spelling that right. (jaja)
Not sure if I know any egg-corns in Spanish, but I can think of many examples of at least homophones causing confusion:
There are lots of words where LL/Y or B/V are substituted for each other, or silent H’s are added or subtracted, sometimes producing different meanings in the process.
The other day he showed me a lot of confusions of “ballenato” (the young of a “ballena”, or whale) with “Vallenato” (“born in the valley” ~ the name of a style of music). You will see both, and it’s even used in jokes along the lines of “Q: What kind of music do the young whales listen to? A: Vallenato!”
I have seen in a newspaper “malla” (mesh or screening) written as “maya” (the culture). Did that ever confuse the student who was supposed to be translating it!
I want to think of more later… and maybe find some real Spanish-language eggcorns.
polyglots of the world, unite ~ we have nothing to lose but our accents!
I know just enough of Portuguese to be competent to spawn eggcorns unwittingly, but not to recognize them or search for them. But it is fun to see the lists that others have put together. There was a list of both malaprops and eggcorns collected by journalists, from São Paulo in 1995. A few of these are easy enough to understand that we can enjoy them too.
First, in Portuguese, the suprasumo of anything is its sine qua non, quintessence, non plus ultra, best of the best. It derives from supra- and sumo, the latter being related to our summit, so together it means “beyond the top”. It is not unusual to be misconstrued as a super-heavyweight, or “super-sumo”, as in “That guy is not exactly a super-sumo of analysis”, or , of a politician, “He thought he was a super sumo”.
Another I liked is the misconstrual of the word presuntuoso, as in “he’s very presuntuoso” to describe someone who thinks a lot of himself and takes liberties. It looks like he’s very presumptuous, wouldn’t you think? Except that “presumptuous” should have been presunçoso. Presunto is ham, so presuntuoso is hammy.
Na franca decadência means “in steep decline”; na franga decadência would be “decadent as a young hen” or maybe “in pullet decay”.
A holofote is a spotlight, as in “single light”; it is sometimes described as an olhoforte, or “strong eye”.
Finally, a knife edge is a gume, from the same root as our acumen. A two-edged sword, or a knife that cuts both ways, is a “faca de dois gumes”. You have a quite different image in mind if you think it’s a “faca de dois legumes”, or a two-vegetable knife. It is an arcane bit of biological trivia to know that a legume makes reference to the way the pea pod splits down both sides.
Incidentally, I’ve been forced temporarily to resort to the burred monica; my alto ego has become inaccessible in my home computer.