Discussions about eggcorns and related topics
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Chris -- 2011-03-08
“Marches” are borderlands; in Britain, “the Marches” usually refers to the part of England that borders Wales. I’m sure there must be some swampy bits in there somewhere, but the area is better known for its hills than its wetlands. On the other hand, borderlands are often desolate areas like thick woods, arid deserts, or impassable fens, so the conflation of marches and marshes isn’t so out there. This gets 1690 raw hits at the moment, but I can’t say how many really are referring to marshes. Examples:
After 1066, the Norman establishment looked west for new seats for their lords. Norman barons created what was later known as the Welsh Marshes in the south and east of Wales.
http://uk.holidaysguide.yahoo.com/p-tra … _history-i
He was born probably at Ledbury near the Welsh marshes and may have gone to school at Great Malvern Priory.
http://www.questia.com/library/literatu … lowman.jsp
We are within easy travelling distance of Stratford upon Avon, the Cotswolds, the Welsh Marshes and the Malvern Hills.
http://cottageholidays.co.uk/England/Sh … House.html
White Castle with Grosmont and Skenfrith castles formed a defensive line in the Welsh Marshes against the threat from Gwent. It is a good example of a ring castle and is the best preserved of the Marcher castles.
http://www.uklink.co.uk/locations/white … index.html
[The second sentence here uses the standard adjectival form.]
Prince John treats Fulke poorly, deriding him as a country bumpkin because he heralds from the Welsh marshes.
[And note the hail>>herald reshaping – I don’t think we have that yet.]
The story is narrated by Arthur de Caldicot, a young boy who lives on the Welsh Marshes in 1199, and we share his hopes and fears as he prepares to become a knight.
A somewhat unusual comment in the “etymology” section of the OED entry on “march” suggests that “marsh” may be a regional variation of “march”:
A note in E. Peacock Gloss. Words Manley & Corringham, Lincs. (ed. 2, 1889) s.v. Marsh implies a regional variant marsh: ‘I have come to the conclusion that our people do not use the word marsh to signify low land, which is at times flooded by water. The idea of a boundary seems always to be conveyed by it.’
The spelling confusion runs both ways. I did a little poking around on the net and found that “marches” is a common way to misspell “marshes.”
The question is whether these are transitive misspellings, or whether there is some imagery transfer in one of the directions (marche -> marsh). Did you see any evidence, when you were gathering the citations, that being a marche implied being a marsh? Your surmise seems reasonable-I’m just wondering if it actually happens.
You know, I think I knew it was “the Marches,” but for some reason I had never known that a “march” was a border land. I think I thought it was named for military foot activity—like, armies trained and marched there, or armies were always invading and marching over it, or something.
And that idiomatic innocence is why I think I’d vote for eggcorn over typo.
(interesting, bcs it comes from “to mark,” it is related to “march,” as in walking. By a different pathway, though—cousins, I guess)
One of the things that surprised me about “Welsh Marshes” was how many of the hits seemed to originate in the UK. I think we’re dealing largely with native speakers in this case. Non-native speakers are often confused by pairs like “marsh/march,” but native Anglophones aren’t—so misspellings probably don’t explain this.
And TootsNYC is right that this doesn’t look like a normal typo: s and c aren’t too far apart on the keyboard, admittedly, but for most of us they’re two fingers over from each other.
It might be a “WTF typo” of the type TootsNYC and I have talked about before—the sort where you intend to type the right word, but your fingers produce something that only sounds kind of similar. Still, 1690 raw hits is a lot of WTF typos.
Last edited by patschwieterman (2008-06-12 05:13:22)
Pat, did you see the Language Log post about those sorts of typos?
Somebody had a more polite term for them (though I like yours, frankly). And apparently there are a lot of us.
No, I didn’t. And in fact I’ve been thinking for a long time that some of the things they talk about could be more convincingly explained by WTFT’s. Like, e.g., the phrase “getter better,” which got a couple of LL posts back in late April, I think
Do you remember roughly how long ago it was? I couldn’t find it in a review of the last week or so.
I went looking for it after I posted that note about it, and couldn’t find it. I’ll keep looking now and then.
(and, I’m pretty sure it was Language Log; I’ll look in the other two places I can think of)
Last edited by TootsNYC (2008-06-13 11:54:28)