Discussions about eggcorns and related topics
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Chris -- 2011-03-08
my mother in law always says this and i giggle each time she sez it!
That’s pretty close to a very old folk etymology for asparagus, and one that apparently was very nearly standard – see below. It’d be interesting to know whether it’s an independent reanalysis by your mother-in-law or whether she learned it from others. If the latter, then maybe this folk etymology, or at least the -grass part, survived longer in some dialects than the OED seems to imply:
“About 1600 the influence of herbalists and horticultural writers made asparagus familiar, and this in the aphetic form ‘sparagus at length displaced sperage, but was itself by popular etymol. corrupted before 1650 to sparagrass, sparrow-grass, which remained the polite name during the 18th c. Botanists still wrote asparagus, but according to Walker Pron. Dict. 1791, ‘Sparrow-grass is so general that asparagus has an air of stiffness and pedantry.’ During the 19th century asparagus returned into literary and polite use, leaving sparrow-grass to the illiterate; though ‘grass’ still occured in cookery books.”
Another tendentious spelling of “asparagus” is “aspearagus,” motivated, we can assume, by the basic unit of asparagus vending and consumption, the asapagus spear. Hundreds of examples of “aspearagus” on the web. Here are three of them (The third one is real bridge-burner: the artist has interlaced the misspelling into the graphic.):
: “We later served him charcoal seared aspearagus and asked him how he liked it”
: “what is it in aspearagus that makes pee stink?”
: “ Aspearagus ”
A few web sites take this eggcorn to the next level by combining the “spear” innovation with the old “gus >> grass” revision to give us the rare double eggcorn “aspearagrass:”
: “Private aspearagrass fields near Walnut Grove. ”
: “Next time I will serve with fresh aspearagrass and browned potatoes.”
: “brussel sprouts sound good I will have to try them fixed that way – they are my favorate veggie after aspearagrass ”
Oooh, I see best-of-the-year-est eggcoronation for this beauty.
Here are some variants, turning it into an adjective.
Last night we had dinner at Alexandras place – and believe this she cooked aspearagous in a marvelous way
http://nathaliesworld.blogg.se/2010/oct … -2010.html
I’m a weird kid I suppose because I love to eat veggies: Brocolli, Spinage, Brussel Sprouts, Aspearagous, and more.
Celery is an excellent preparation for aspiragrass, onions and cauliflowers
Rotation of crops
I liked “spinage” too. Like Dickens’s gammon and spinnage.
Last edited by David Bird (2011-11-08 15:10:29)