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#1 2009-01-23 17:17:36

jorkel
Eggcornista
Registered: 2006-08-08
Posts: 1455

A SHELL/shadow of one's former self.

A shell of one’s former self
vs.
A shadow of one’s former self

I went to look up this idiom today and was a bit surprised to see the shadow variant listed, but no mention of the shell variant. I do recall hearing both—and both could be technically correct—but I would suggest that one is decidedly idiomatic while the other is a widely used spinoff. Eggcorn or a gray area?

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#2 2009-01-23 17:49:35

DavidTuggy
Eggcornista
From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-12
Posts: 1763
Website

Re: A SHELL/shadow of one's former self.

Not alike enough phonologically to be an eggcorn, in my judgment. I can’t imagine saying one thinking it was what others were saying when they said the other.


*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 2009-01-23 21:08:04

jorkel
Eggcornista
Registered: 2006-08-08
Posts: 1455

Re: A SHELL/shadow of one's former self.

I mostly agree David, except under the foggy-recollector scenario in which an utterer doesn’t remember the original but manages to produce something with vivid imagery which is like-sounding enough. One really has to wonder how two similar sounding phrases come into existence.

My other thought is that the change is intentional; Perhaps some struggled with making sense of the shadow and decided to go with a shell instead. Or, perhaps the original was adapted to describe the bombed out “shells” of buildings during wartime; So, in that circumstance, something certainly could be reduced to a shell of it’s former self.

Last edited by jorkel (2009-01-23 21:17:19)

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#4 2009-01-23 21:44:23

DavidTuggy
Eggcornista
From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-12
Posts: 1763
Website

Re: A SHELL/shadow of one's former self.

Similar-sounding phrases come about all the time by “normal” syntactic means: we don’t always try just to reproduce clichés that we have heard. Foggy recollections doubtless enter in to those “normal” processes, too.


*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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