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#1 2008-10-09 15:44:25

TootsNYC
Eggcornista
Registered: 2007-06-19
Posts: 263

A symmetrical, B symmetrical

I used the word “assymetrical’ at the dinner table recently. (Who knows why; it’s not the anyone expects pork chops to be symmetrical. Anyway…)

My daughter told me that when she was younger (she’s 14 now), probably about the time she was learning about symmetry in math class, which would have been second or third grade maybe, that she thought there were two terms:

A symmetrical, which indicated shapes that were symmetrical along a vertical axis, like the letter A
(right side mirrors left)

and

B symmetrical, which indicated shapes that were symmetrical along a horizontal axis, like the letter B
(top mirrors bottom, if you draw the loops the same shape & size, which you can if you want)

I thought those were great terms. I kind of think we need those terms.

(and I at first typed “along a vertical access”—Lord knows why, I know the term “axis”!)

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#2 2008-10-10 01:27:56

DavidTuggy
Eggcornista
From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-12
Posts: 1793
Website

Re: A symmetrical, B symmetrical

I like it! Yes, you’re right about the usefulness of the distinction. Though of course there can be symmetry at any angle between any horizontal and the vertical.


*If the human mind were simple enough for us to understand,
we would be too simple-minded to understand it* .

(Possible Corollary: it is, and we are .)

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#3 2008-10-20 02:22:17

TootsNYC
Eggcornista
Registered: 2007-06-19
Posts: 263

Re: A symmetrical, B symmetrical

We were talking about this further, and a friend pointed out that we need a term for things that are symmetrical along BOTH axis. Our suggestion:

I symmetrical

GET IT??

And of course, something that is symmetrical along every conceivable axis is:

O symmetrical

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#4 2008-10-20 04:10:04

DavidTuggy
Eggcornista
From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-12
Posts: 1793
Website

Re: A symmetrical, B symmetrical

So we need to substitute “non-symmetrical” for “asymmetrical” at this point?


*If the human mind were simple enough for us to understand,
we would be too simple-minded to understand it* .

(Possible Corollary: it is, and we are .)

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#5 2008-10-20 16:26:19

TootsNYC
Eggcornista
Registered: 2007-06-19
Posts: 263

Re: A symmetrical, B symmetrical

Only if you’re talking to 3rd graders.

I think asymmetrical is perfectly fine in the real world. Just, if you ever visit my household, don’t be surprised to hear the alternate terms.

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#6 2008-10-20 17:35:59

DavidTuggy
Eggcornista
From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-12
Posts: 1793
Website

Re: A symmetrical, B symmetrical

Back to the original topic, I would not count this a (good) eggcorn because the overall meaning of A-symmetrical is too different from that of asymmetrical to allow for use in very many of the same contexts without causing serious misunderstanding. It is a mondegreen, I would say.

As usual, the caveat: being a mondegreen doesn’t mean it can’t be an eggcorn, but to do so it has to fulfill a few more requirements: in this case, it is standard for your child, changes imagery strikingly, and is phonologically next to unnoticeable, but the overall meaning is too different from that of the “acorn” (asymmetrical) to fit the definition.


*If the human mind were simple enough for us to understand,
we would be too simple-minded to understand it* .

(Possible Corollary: it is, and we are .)

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#7 2008-10-20 17:56:51

patschwieterman
Administrator
From: California
Registered: 2005-10-25
Posts: 1665

Re: A symmetrical, B symmetrical

A mondegreen? I usually think of a mondegreen as a reshaping that depends very specifically on the performance of a fixed text (esp. a song)—a text that’s usually a good deal longer than just one phrase. From that perspective, mondegreens are often not “transferable” to other places where the original would typically be used. Eggcorns, by contrast, are.

Are you using mondegreen here to mean a reshaping based on a mishearing that occurs under any kind of circumstances? The new Merriam Websters Online definition would seem to agree with you, but as far as I can tell they’re implicitly calling all reshapings that sound a lot like the original mondegreens.

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#8 2008-10-20 20:09:32

DavidTuggy
Eggcornista
From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-12
Posts: 1793
Website

Re: A symmetrical, B symmetrical

Well, how long something has to be to count as a “fixed text” is a matter of degree. The eponymous usage was one phrase long: “and Lady Mondegreen” << “and laid him on the green”. Yes, I was using “mondegreen” to mean a reshaping based on a mishearing. I agree that the examples typically cited are mostly longer than a single word. But there’s no need to draw a line and exclude shorter ones. And yes, by that definition many eggcorns are in fact mondegreens.

Also, typically the meanings produced by the mondegreening process are too different from the original (often ludicrously so) to fit in other contexts (or even very well in the original context). In the cases where they are not so different, they are often (maybe even always? by definition?) eggcorns.


*If the human mind were simple enough for us to understand,
we would be too simple-minded to understand it* .

(Possible Corollary: it is, and we are .)

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#9 2008-10-21 06:22:41

patschwieterman
Administrator
From: California
Registered: 2005-10-25
Posts: 1665

Re: A symmetrical, B symmetrical

This feels to me like a fairly radical redefinition of “mondegreen.” By this definition, aren’t all eggcorns always mondegreens? And how can you differentiate mondegreens from what Arnold Zwicky calls “classical malaprops”? How does one say definitively that a given CM can’t be the product of a “mishearing”? And aren’t you coming awfully close to a wholesale conflation of malaprop and mondegreen? I agree with you that a large overlap between eggcorn and mondegreen is inevitable given your definition of mondegreen. The problem is that I think many people would reject that definition (which seems to me to include any non-standard reshaping that resembles the original in sound)—esp. people who are familiar with the various terms that have grown up in the last 30 years or so to differentiate various categories of reshapings.

People usually use “mondegreen” to mean a mishearing of a fixed text—i.e., a song or poem, most of the time—that depends very specifically on having that work (and sometimes a particular, one-time-only performance of it) as a context. A mondegreen apparent in, say, Jimi Hendrix’ performance of “Purple Haze” might actually not be present in a faithful cover of the song by a different artist. I think it’s a useful word in that sense, and I like precisely the fact that it can emphasize the performance-bound nature of the reshaping. I can’t think of any other term that carries similar connotations. I wouldn’t want to rule out overlap between the categories, but—given this latter sense of mondegreen—most eggcorns seem very different.

Last edited by patschwieterman (2008-10-21 06:24:48)

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#10 2008-10-21 15:04:52

DavidTuggy
Eggcornista
From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-12
Posts: 1793
Website

Re: A symmetrical, B symmetrical

Well, some eggcorns arise from written language rather than spoken language (e.g. “outlier” for me before I realized it was pronounced out-lie-er rather than outly-er). So not all eggcorns are products of mishearing.

It wouldn’t bother me a whole lot if eggcorns were a proper subset of mondegreens, or of malaprops. All of the above are proper subsets of mistakes. So what? They’re still interesting categories to try to understand.

In any case, it is certainly true that typical mondegreens are not eggcorns. They are (at least canonically) standard (for the mondegreener) reshapings of an original (standard for others) phrase or other structure, and they sound close to what the original sounded like, but their meanings are wildly different, to the point where they are ridiculous. They fail of eggcornhood for this reason. They arise especially easily in rote-learned language and especially in songs, because people (a) learn such things whether they make sense or not, (b) sort-of half expect them not to make sense anyway, and ( c ) maintain off-the-wall meaning-shapings of them faute-de-mieux even when they themselves are puzzled by them.

So, you do not have a “conflation” of mondegreens and eggcorns to worry about.

Last edited by DavidTuggy (2008-11-18 23:22:10)


*If the human mind were simple enough for us to understand,
we would be too simple-minded to understand it* .

(Possible Corollary: it is, and we are .)

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#11 2008-10-21 20:07:18

TootsNYC
Eggcornista
Registered: 2007-06-19
Posts: 263

Re: A symmetrical, B symmetrical

I think David is right—this isn’t really an eggcorn, because it can’t be substituted for the original phrase and still actually mean mostly the same thing.

Asymmetrical means “not symmetrical at all.” So plugging in “A symmetrical” wouldn’t give you the same meaning.

Where as “eggcorn” means “the egg-like, corn-like thing that falls from the oak tree”—and “acorn” means “the [seed] that falls from the oak tree.”

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#12 2008-10-22 05:52:20

patschwieterman
Administrator
From: California
Registered: 2005-10-25
Posts: 1665

Re: A symmetrical, B symmetrical

TootsNYC—I’m not sure whether your last post was a reaction to me or not (I didn’t weigh in on the specific topic you’re addressing), but—just in case—I don’t (and didn’t) disagree with anything you said there.

David Tuggy—Okay, your last paragraph on “typical mondegreens” sounds like a description of, well, typical mondegreens. And I more or less agree with what you say there (though I’d still insist that the problems of performance and reproducibility complicate things more than you’ve acknowledged). As far as I can tell, however, my original point stands: if “A-symmetrical” is a mondegreen, then vast overlap between the mondegreen and eggcorn categories seems inevitable. But I don’t think it’s a mondegreen (or an eggcorn).

Last edited by patschwieterman (2008-10-22 05:56:20)

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#13 2008-10-22 13:36:15

DavidTuggy
Eggcornista
From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-12
Posts: 1793
Website

Re: A symmetrical, B symmetrical

It becomes a matter of terminology, as far as I can see. Certainly, vast overlap is there if you define the terms the way I have.

What problems of performance and reproducibility do you have in mind?

(Also, is there a way to transfer this discussion to the “Eggcornology” part of the forum where it belongs?)


*If the human mind were simple enough for us to understand,
we would be too simple-minded to understand it* .

(Possible Corollary: it is, and we are .)

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#14 2008-10-22 22:41:39

patschwieterman
Administrator
From: California
Registered: 2005-10-25
Posts: 1665

Re: A symmetrical, B symmetrical

David Tuggy wrote,

(Also, is there a way to transfer this discussion to the “Eggcornology” part of the forum where it belongs?)

Chris can certainly move threads from one page to another; I’m not sure whether she can move later posts in a given thread. As far as I can tell, I don’t have the necessary level of access to move either threads or posts. Perhaps I’m wrong about that, but in the past I’ve looked for help with this matter in every likely-looking administrative resource on the site without any success.

I’m also less sure than some others here about when posts have to be considered off-topic for a given thread. Given the lack of a “respond to this post” capacity on this forum, I’m less bothered about the evolution of our threads as long as the evolution post-to-post makes sense. And starting a new thread sometimes requires thought/work that one feels one doesn’t have time/energy to do when a a topic morphs on an already-established thread—so I worry that if we get too enthusiastic about wrist-slapping each other in regards to “topicity,” we may discourage people from posting certain interesting comments altogether. (And I’m making this as a general comment and not intending to slyly accuse you of “wrist-slapping.”)

But yeah, if we’re both interested in continuing this, we should start a new thread. If you care enough, we could copy the relevant posts, and then delete the old ones.

(Edit: I confusedly/confusingly wrote “topics” at one point when I meant “posts.”)

Last edited by patschwieterman (2008-10-23 05:59:08)

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#15 2008-10-23 01:07:54

DavidTuggy
Eggcornista
From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-12
Posts: 1793
Website

Re: A symmetrical, B symmetrical

If I was wrist-slapping anybody, it was certainly myself. I know who derails threads the most around here!


*If the human mind were simple enough for us to understand,
we would be too simple-minded to understand it* .

(Possible Corollary: it is, and we are .)

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#16 2008-10-23 03:59:08

Chris Waigl
Eggcorn Faerie
From: London, UK
Registered: 2005-10-14
Posts: 115
Website

Re: A symmetrical, B symmetrical

David Tuggy wrote, (Also, is there a way to transfer this discussion to the “Eggcornology” part of the forum where it belongs?)

Done.

patschwieterman wrote:

Chris can certainly move threads from one page to another; I’m not sure whether she can move later posts in a given thread. As far as I can tell, I don’t have the necessary level of access to move either threads or posts. Perhaps I’m wrong about that, but in the past I’ve looked for help with this matter in every likely-looking administrative resource on the site without any success.

Can you take a look at the very bottom of the thread view, left-hand side, do you have a link labelled “move topic”?

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#17 2008-10-23 05:55:55

patschwieterman
Administrator
From: California
Registered: 2005-10-25
Posts: 1665

Re: A symmetrical, B symmetrical

A-ha! Thanks, Chris—that’s really helpful. If it was a snake…. It looks pretty foolproof, but please tell me now if there’s any damage I can unwittingly do with this.

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#18 2008-10-23 14:34:46

DavidTuggy
Eggcornista
From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-12
Posts: 1793
Website

Re: A symmetrical, B symmetrical

Thanks, Chris!

I presume your comment about the “move topic” link was addressed to Pat only? The rest of us can’t do that, can we?


*If the human mind were simple enough for us to understand,
we would be too simple-minded to understand it* .

(Possible Corollary: it is, and we are .)

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#19 2008-10-23 16:08:52

TootsNYC
Eggcornista
Registered: 2007-06-19
Posts: 263

Re: A symmetrical, B symmetrical

ooh, Pat has great and sweeping powers!

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#20 2008-10-23 16:39:15

patschwieterman
Administrator
From: California
Registered: 2005-10-25
Posts: 1665

Re: A symmetrical, B symmetrical

David—The move function doesn’t show up on the regular screen. I’ll say a little more about moving threads on a post over at “Soapbox.”

TootsNYC—Yeah, everybody’d better be nice to me or they’ll find their posts over in “News and announcements”—that’ll show them.

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#21 2008-11-14 00:42:13

DavidTuggy
Eggcornista
From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-12
Posts: 1793
Website

Re: A symmetrical, B symmetrical

TootsNYC wrote:

We were talking about this further, and a friend pointed out that we need a term for […] something that is symmetrical along every conceivable axis […]:¶ O symmetrical

How about awesommetrical? (And what would it look like? a sphere, for 3-D. Adding time and other dementions?)


*If the human mind were simple enough for us to understand,
we would be too simple-minded to understand it* .

(Possible Corollary: it is, and we are .)

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#22 2008-11-18 18:25:20

TootsNYC
Eggcornista
Registered: 2007-06-19
Posts: 263

Re: A symmetrical, B symmetrical

DavidTuggy, it is fun to be on the Internet with you.’

Last edited by TootsNYC (2008-11-18 18:26:53)

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#23 2008-11-18 23:19:56

DavidTuggy
Eggcornista
From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-12
Posts: 1793
Website

Re: A symmetrical, B symmetrical

Awe, thanks, Toots!

—dt


*If the human mind were simple enough for us to understand,
we would be too simple-minded to understand it* .

(Possible Corollary: it is, and we are .)

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