Discussions about eggcorns and related topics
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Chris -- 2011-03-08
Here’s a complex situation, with elements of idiom blending, malapropism, and eggcorn.Hoof and Mouth Disease is a virulent, highly contagious viral infection of cattle. To say that someone has put their foot in their mouth is to say that they have made an awkward or embarrassing statement. In chronic cases, this latter idiom is often modified to say that someone, likely a politician, has ’ foot in mouth disease.’ (Perhaps this usage is influenced by the name of the real disease.) And not infrequently (7,000 ghits), the idiom is further modified and the politician is described as having ‘hoof in mouth disease.’ Coming from the other direction, ‘Hoof and Mouth Disease’ is sometimes, although less frequently, mistakenly written as ‘Hoof In Mouth Disease.’
Bill Maher, now there is hoof in mouth disease on two legs.
www.topix.com/forum/winter-sports/ice-h … VNJ4MVO0IO
I’ll chalk up Kerry’s statement to his ongoing struggle with hoof-in-mouth disease.
hoof in mouth disease. omg!!! how many times do i need to insert my dang-old foot in my mouth before i learn to self-edit before speaking?!?
But he has a tremendous case of hoof-in-mouth disease as he tries to talk about Sunni-Shia relations and Iran – watch this video from Josh Marshall …
... run by the US Department of Agriculture, it tests animal viruses and illnesses such as anthrax and hoof in mouth disease. ...
www.democracynow.org/1999/11/12/america … and_animal
... we are well aware of the mad cow issues in England followed by the hoof in mouth disease.
...he is informed by veterinarian that some of his cattle have contracted hoof-in-mouth disease …
I and others use “hoof in mouth” meaning “prone to say foolish things” with consciousness of the ungulation (ungulomorphization?) involved. Like saying someone has his paw in too many pies.
*If the human mind were simple enough for us to understand,
we would be too simple-minded to understand it* .
I use this one myself, and I’ve never thought of it as anything but a pun. It’s so common that I imagine there are people unaware that it’s a play on “hoof and mouth disease,” but I don’t think I’d call it an eggcorn even in that case.
As an aside, I just got 18k+ rhits for “hoof in mouth disease,” but only 16k- rhits for “hoof in mouth”; I entered both queries in quotation marks. Shouldn’t the shorter string be gotting more hits, or at least as many? I’ve been running into more and more instances of this sort of thing. Do any of our tech-savvy posters have an explanation?
I just tried the two strings and got 27K for the shorter one and 6K for the longer one. Which seems about right.
Huh. More Google bizarreness. I just duplicated (more or less) your figure for “hoof and mouth disease” (7.5k), but not for “hoof and mouth” (15.6k) – my results for the latter were almost just half of what you got an hour ago. And what’s stranger is that I googled both of them half a dozen times over about 5 min, and saw the figure for “hoof and mouth” fall about 1200 hits (from 16.8k) all of a sudden.
http://www.google.com/search?client=fir … gle+Search
[hoof in mouth]
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&clie … tnG=Search
[hoof in mouth disease]
Last edited by patschwieterman (2008-10-05 19:17:51)
Here’s what Google says about the estimated number of hits that it reports: http://code.google.com/apis/searchappli … um_results
Google does not reveal in this document the algorithm that yields the number of hits reported on the top right of the search pages. But one thing is clear: no number higher than 1K can be an actual count, since Google stops retrieving links to the search word after it buffers a thousand pages. Once the search server gets its thousand pages in response to a given search request, it (1) does its algorithm magic to get an estimate for the number of hits that it would have found if it had kept retrieving pages, (2) applies the automatic filters that reduce these thousand pages to (supposedly) non-duplicate entries, (3) ranks the pages using Google’s famous metric for popularity, and (4) presents to the user the first set of these ranked pages.
The server’s action in the first step, the action that gives us the estimated number of hits, is not done as a service to linguistic researchers. Google says that “the navigation structure for search results is based on this estimate.” Not sure what that means, but the subtext is that no one but Google can use this number with any confidence.
Just to see the effect of this thousand page limit, try typing in a common word into Google’s search box. I do it with the term “olive.” The word “olive,” Google estimates, occurs on 107 million pages. Then I go through the hits, which are automatically filtered to removed duplicates, and I am given 889 page references. On the last displayed page I have the option to remove the filtering. I do this, and now Google shows me 977 references. Presumably Google only retrieved 977 references for me when it first did its search (I don’t know why this last number is not a thousand, as the document above suggests-perhaps “1000 pages” is only an approximation.). Anyway, the word “olive” obviously occurs on many more than just the thousand web pages that Google is willing to show me. Whether the word “olive” is on more than a million pages, as the estimate suggests, cannot be discovered with Google’s search tools, since Google cuts me off at a thousand or less every time I browse for the word. The estimate of 107 million seems plausible. If Google really does, as recent news reports suggest, index a trillion pages, then a word occurring on a hundred million of these pages would have to occur on one out of every 10,000 pages.
For a interesting take on the topic of Google’s estimate for word hits in its database of web pages, see the “frequently given answer” of Jonathan de Boyne Pollard: http://homepages.tesco.net/J.deBoynePol … etric.html
Last edited by kem (2009-10-22 11:07:14)