Discussions about eggcorns and related topics
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Chris -- 2011-03-08
One writes, ‘It’s just a phase he’s going through,’ to excuse uncharacteristically bad behavior, so someone ‘unphased’ would be keeping steady. (I wondered whether some meaning might be leaking through from the Star Trek universe, where the ‘phaser’ is the weapon of choice, but saw no evidence of this.)
100,000+ ghits, but most of these are for a technical use in genetics. Examples:
Jaywalking Granny Unphased By Car Accident Video
A grandma watches a car accident occur about 10 feet in front of her, then walks off as if nothing happened.
www.bestviral.com/video/10689/jaywalkin … r_accident
Hang Seng Unphased By Through-Train Derailment
www.tax-news.com/archive/story/Hang_Sen … 28928.html
24/7 Wall St.: GM Sales Dropped, But Shares Unphased
Asian Cup: Iraqi team unphased by domestic issues …
www.nowpublic.com/asian_cup_iraqi_team_ … tic_issues
Charles Whitman, sniping from the UT tower, was completely unphased by civilians shooting up at his defended position.
www.dailytexanonline.com/home/index.cfm … fc7-aaa…
I wonder if people think of the verb faze or the derived adjective unfazed as related to phases (e.g. of the moon, of development, etc.), or if they simply grab the relatively more common spelling without thinking about its meaning as a noun. In the former case, wherein *to phase is somehow related to a phase, the example would clearly be an eggcorn. In the latter, it’s hard to say what it is. Maybe an eggcorn, maybe a misspelling, maybe something else.
I note that both the Mark Liberman ‘Language Log’ piece and the Paul Brians ‘Common Errors’ piece cited in the Database call this an error, rather than a reshaping.
Obligatory token counting: The Corpus of Contemporary American English has 16,550 occurrences of noun or verb phase and variants (not counting phaser) compared to 347 of the verb faze (not counting unfazed, but see below). It has 13 occurrences of unphased to 359 unfazed. No matter what its genesis, the form is out there, even in edited texts (though five of the unphased tokens are in transcriptions of spoken texts).
Chris Waigl wrote:
I know I was thinking of phases of waves.
I would say that’s about as close as we are likely to get to a look inside a speaker’s mind, at least until we invent a portable instant-read brain scanner.