Discussions about eggcorns and related topics
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Chris -- 2011-03-08
I just heard the term eggcorn on A Way With Words this weekend and googled my way here. I’ve been collecting eggcorns and related misuses for a number of years, referring to them as “technopropisms” as suggested by Sandy Reed of Infoworld in the mid-90’s (technopropism – malapropism or similar that isn’t caught by a spell checker…see article links in the quiz page below). I published a couple of online quizes back then which might be of interest:
Many thousands of people have taken the quizes and I still get quite a few hits each day – it seems as though the most prominent links are from ESL pages, so the scores often reflect some unfamiliarity with colloquial American English, but quite a few perfect scores have been recorded over the years. I’d be honored if some of the eggcornerati would have a go.
I’ve got another batch collected from observations and submissions by quiz takers which I haven’t had the time to put into quiz form. If I can identify any good ones that aren’t already in this database I’ll submit them.
Welcome, Wade. Thank you for pointing us to your three quizzes.
The slips represented in your quizzes fall into a number of categories. Some of them are undoubtedly eggcorns, however, and would probably be of interest to those who hang out in this forum. I took a look at your 300+ questions, and I found about ten that were (1) possible eggcorns, (2) documentable on the web, and (3) not yet the subject of discussion in this forum. They are
padded down/patted down
seated third/seeded third
optical illusion/optical allusion
no nothing/know nothing
deter him/detour him
penny up/pony up
You might want to look up “Cupertino effect” (see, for example, the discussion at http://188.8.131.52/~myl/languagelog/ar … 05361.html) for more information on slips that are referenced in some way to spell checkers.
The archives of this forum would provide you with enough material for many more sets of quizzes.
Last edited by kem (2008-07-21 22:14:24)
By the way, Wade’s original post—from April 2006—really points out the problem of attribution (or who “first” located a particular eggcorn).
Wade lists dozens of examples of reshapings that may or may not be eggcorns: Many don’t qualify because they fit some other pattern and precede the date for which the bounds of eggcornicity were first drawn.
At the other extreme, I suppose we could have “finders” who might simply stumple upon a pre-collected list like Wade’s and provide the analysis of each entry—laying down the formal steps to ascertain eggcornicity—without giving the original locator credit (or even the first shot at it).
But that’s only half the problem. The other problem is that Wade’s list was posited in a single posting (with links elsewhere), and many—myself included—were completely unaware of it. I suspect many eggcorns suggested here in the Forum might previously have appeared on a list such as Wade’s without the new contributor being aware of those prior efforts.
Just a little food for thought for all of us who come to the Forum with an expectation that “my” eggcorns deserve to enter the Eggcorn Database.
Last edited by jorkel (2008-07-24 18:43:29)
<b> precede the date for which the bounds of eggcornicity were first drawn</b>
Wait, so if someone mentioned it somewhere else first, we can’t call it an eggcorn? That’s not right.
If it fits the criteria, it’s an eggcorn. Or a “what did they think they were saying,” which is my mom’s term; mine is “a ‘whoa is me.’”
I’ve seen a few posters—including yourself if I recall correctly, TootsNYC—saying they have collected eggcorn-like reshapings for a long long time without realizing exactly what they were. One other woman also did an academic study of constructions she referred to as “metaphones.” And, the Wade list looks like it might have taken years to assemble.
So, all I’m saying is that others have notice eggcorns before—but perhaps without articulating the replacement of imagery involved. Yes, they are still eggcorns, but before that they didn’t have a consistent name other than “folk etymology” (whenever that category might have applied).