Discussions about eggcorns and related topics
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Chris -- 2011-03-08
I’d like to know whether the authors are thinking of a field that looks like a plain, or of a field that’s plain and unadorned. If the former, one might wonder why a flat field needs any more leveling. In any case, when you get right down to it, this might trigger our “new-imagery” criterion, since plenty of plain fields double as playing fields. The expression “a level plain” may help make this feel natural for users. Probably about 60 unique instances if you count all forms of the verb. Examples:
There lies the key to our success: a strong commitment to level the plain field in the communication arena while delivering the goods to every one, everywhere, at anytime.
http://jokonet.blogspot.com/2008/11/pre … e-new.html
As time passes, more businesses are realizing the benefit of the internet as an instrument to level the plain field with their competitors.
How do we as a group level the plain field economically without encouraging inter -marriages ?
http://www.ghanaweb.net/GhanaHomePage// … ?ID=120081
The wall levels the plain field. The wall makes a vehicle at Lynnwood Dodge look exactly like a vehicle at any other dealer using the same technique.
The issue of deception is tricky and although I can understand how people can be uncomfortable with online gender swapping, I think that if everyone just assumes that everyone else is lying about who they say they are, then it levels the plain field it’s not so bad.
http://blog.lib.umn.edu/kenne329/3401s0 … netly.html
Since then, the administration and industry have argued that the fee on foreign military sales should be abolished in order to “level the playing field” with the State Department’s direct commercial sales program. Of course, another way to level the plain field would be to reinstate recoupment cost on commercial sales. In “Reducing the Deficit: Spending and Revenue Options (1995)” the Congressional Budget Office estimate that doing so would reduce the deficit by $110 million in fiscal year 1996 and $92 million over the next five years.
http://www.fas.org/asmp/library/article … c_bee.html
[Nilep alert: I’m aware this is problematic – that’s why it’s here. This is a Sacramento Bee article archived on the Federation of American Scientists website; I’m going to assume that it’s represented accurately. So what’s going on with that standard use of “level the playing field” in quotations followed by what looks like an eggcornish version? Dunno. It almost looks like the writer feels the quoted version is non-standard and that she’s providing the correct version in the story. But that can’t be, can it? And while the article is editorial and angry, there’s no trace of playfulness or humor in the paragraphs of it that I read.]
“Head * off at the past” gets 1.42 million raw hits (no, I’m not kidding) – and 61 unique hits.
Results 1 – 10 of about 1,420,000 for “head * off at the past”. (0.34 seconds)
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&clie … nG=Search]
[Edit: Oops—“head * off at the past” crept in from an unyet finished posting that I was editing on the same page in order to save pixels.]
Last edited by patschwieterman (2008-11-29 23:36:59)
Pat, there are also a few examples of “level the plane field” which, as a most reluctant flier, I welcome with open arms/wings…
In other words: to be operating within an environmental architecture that would itself successfully level the plane field, based on recognized principals of …
NetWex Communications uses the leading technologies in wireless broadband to level the plane field for emerging countries where legacy telecommunication …
They try and level the plane field (they love this expression) by tweaking here and there so they get someone who is close to their needs. ...
(And we await the nicely metaphysical “head off at the past” with our customarily baited breaths…)
Oh, I love that one. There’s also loads for “a level plain/plane field”.
As for the Sacramento Bee article that has both “playing” and “plain”, this phenomenon is one of the principal criteria for me to exclude a cite: If the presumed same writer, a few lines apart, uses both forms, the eggcorn and the original, then I conclude that he or she is not fully opting for the eggcorn. There are so many ways to arrive at an eggcorn form that do not require any eggcornish process. In the press, Cupertino may strike (maybe there was a typo like “plaing field”. Even if we had a perfect test for eggcornincity (and we don’t) we normally can’t go back and ask the reader whether they’d change anything, on second thought.
Another interesting point here is whether playing»plane and playing»plain are fundamentally two eggcorns or one. Tentatively, I’m opting for one, as the underlying idea is that of “flat”.
As for the Sacramento Bee article that has both “playing” and “plain”, this phenomenon is one of the principal criteria for me to exclude a cite: If the presumed same writer, a few lines apart, uses both forms, the eggcorn and the original, then I conclude that he or she is not fully opting for the eggcorn.
I note in the original post that I think that this is a problematic citation. As I’ve explained before—many times now—I usually try to make sure that the first 3 citations I give in a post feel to me like good evidence for the eggcornicity of a reshaping. After those first 3, I’ll often include citations I find “interesting” or problematic. The Bee excerpt is one of those—and marked as such.
I’ve argued before that I think people attribute too many oddities to spellchecker typos (“Cupertinos”). Sure, this one might be explained that way. But I think the process of sitting down at the keyboard and writing without thinking too hard about it could also produce weirdness like this without the intervention of a spellchecker—and for me, that’s a far more interesting idea. We have a tendency to prefer a nice, clean model of lexical choice. But I think some parts of our brains don’t always share that preference.