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#1 2009-03-18 19:07:53

kem
Eggcornista
From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2143

an eyas << a neias

From today’s Merriam-Webster’s Word for the Day:

eyas \EYE-us\ an unfledged bird; specifically : a nestling hawk. Example sentence: It took about six weeks for the eyas to mature into a fully grown peregrine falcon.

“Eyas” is a funny-sounding word that exists because of a mistake. In the 15th century, Middle English speakers made an incorrect assumption about the word “neias,” which comes from the Anglo-French “niais” (“fresh from the nest”). “A neias” sounded like “an eias” to their ears, so the word lost that initial “n,” eventually becoming “eyas.” (There are other words in English that were created in this same fashion; for example, “an apron” used to be “a napron.”) The change in spelling may have been suggested by other Middle English words like “ey” (“egg”) and “eyry,” which was a spelling of “aerie,” the hawk’s nest where an eyas would be found.

We’ve noted here the apron/napron confusion (in a discussion of “nother” at http://eggcorns.lascribe.net/forum/view … hp?id=2150 and in a post about foreign word eggcorns at http://eggcorns.lascribe.net/forum/view … hp?id=2472). The eyas eggcorn is new to me and to this forum. The OED, which may be source of the M-W editor’s information, also points out that the word “adder” is probably the result of the same confusion with “an.” Until the fourteenth century, says the OED, the word was “nadder/naddre.” The change to “adder” arose “through the erroneous division of a naddre, as an addre.”

That’s four slips from the a/an confusion. Are there others?

Last edited by kem (2009-03-19 02:28:51)

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#2 2009-03-18 22:24:21

DavidTuggy
Eggcornista
From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-12
Posts: 1769
Website

Re: an eyas << a neias

Are these all eggcorns? I can see eyas as an eggcorn to the extent that some morpheme ey was really imputed to the new word. Is there something similar for apron vs. napron ? Is addition somehow imputed to the adder ?
.
Nahuatl has an amazingly similar process: the article in (more or less = ‘the’), which is sometimes just a syllabic n , participates in pairs such as ( in) ohpalitl ‘(the) prickly-pear’ vs. ( in) nohpalitl ‘(the) prickly pear’. I don’t see this as an eggcorn: there is a phonological restructuring, but there is not any semantic restructuring to speak of, much less a striking semantic restructuring that nevertheless makes sense.
.
From that Linguist post on a whole nother :

Rather than whole being inserted inside another, it is simply a question
of an other being misdivided as a nother. Other examples are a newt from
an ewt, a nickname from an ekename, and a notch from an otch. The
opposite misdivision has occurred in an adder from a nadder, an apron
from a napron, and an umpire from a nompere.

Last edited by DavidTuggy (2009-03-18 22:31:05)


*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 2009-03-19 02:27:41

kem
Eggcornista
From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2143

Re: an eyas << a neias

True, most of them are not eggcorns. Let’s call them “slips.” I’ll go back and rephrase the question.

So, that’s four more from the Linguist post that David cites (otch/notch, nonper/umpire, ewt/newt ekename/nickname).

I found a discussion of these types of changes in the OED. Turns out there is a name for this process. N-metanalysis. Metanalyis is ”[t]he reinterpretation of the form of a word resulting in the creation of a new word; esp. the changing of the boundaries between words or morphological units.” (OED). Here is what the OED says under the heading of “N:”

From the beginning of the Middle English period, the coexistence of two forms of the indefinite article (an before vowels and a before consonants) often led to metanalysis (the same phenomenon occurs in other languages where the indefinite article ends in [n], e.g. French, Italian, etc.). Variants arising by metanalysis sometimes alliterate with words with initial n- in alliterative verse, and in some cases have become established as the regular modern forms (so that e.g. Middle English a nadder became an adder; compare also apron, auger, etc.), while conversely some vowel-initial forms have gained n- (so that e.g. Middle English an ewt became a newt; compare also nickname).

The above quotation gives us one more: nauger/auger. In poking around the OED discussions I ran across yet another one: umbilicus/nombril. That’s ten so far. They are

N-borrowers:
other/nother
otch/notch
umbilicus/nombril
ewt/newt
ekename/nickname

N-losers:
neias/eyas
nadder/adder
napron/apron
nonper/umpire
nauger/auger

Last edited by kem (2009-03-19 02:30:24)

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#4 2009-03-19 16:47:04

burred
Eggcornista
From: Montreal
Registered: 2008-03-17
Posts: 943

Re: an eyas << a neias

I’m reminded of ‘a nother’ widespread example of N-metanalysis, for a word which may have passed through an eggcorn developmental stage in another language before landing on your breakfast table this morning. The word orange originated in Sanskrit as a naranga-s or orange tree, then passed through narang (Persian), naranj (Arabic), whence to naranza (Venetian)_ (and variously narancia and arancia (Italian), and pomem de orenge (M.L.)). It probably lost its initial N metanalytically from une narenge or una narancia in Italy. At the same time, there is a suggestion that the A then became modified to an O through a connection between the colour of the fruit and the French word for gold (or), which led to the eggcorn we know as the orange.

This story is taken directly from the Online Etymology Dictionary, with increased credibility offered by the testimony of my Italian girlfriend.

Last edited by burred (2009-03-19 16:55:11)

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#5 2009-03-19 18:12:17

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

Re: an eyas << a neias

“Ought” in the sense of “zero” (as in “Double-ought seven” or “way back in ought-six…”) probably arose as a misanalysis of “a nought.” “Aitchbone”—a word for the buttock-bone in animals—is also often included in lists like this; it started as “nage-bone.”

“Humble pie” might be another example—that particular “humble” comes ultimately from “numbles,” but I think there’s some disagreement as to what happened along the way.

The “nonce” in “for the nonce” arises through a different but similar process. The first n in “nonce” is from the old inflected form of the demonstrative in Old English “for then anes”—“for that one thing.”

“Accomplice” seems to be a restructuring of “a complice”—it’s not found in French or Latin.

Some time ago I saw online what looked like a pretty exhaustive list—including, inevitably, a number of “modern English” words that I’d never seen before. I think it was on the website for some linguistics class; I’ll try to see whether it’s still findable.

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#6 2009-03-19 18:29:07

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

Re: an eyas << a neias

I”m pretty sure this is the list of “misdivided words” I was remembering: http://wso.williams.edu/~jkossuth/work/ … ions.html. Most of them wouldn’t make Kem’s list, but “ewest” and “ettle” and “ningle” and some others probably would.

Edit: Hmmnhh—the link isn’t working for some reason. But Google “Misdivided words” in quotations, and the first hit you get—it’s at a williams.edu address—is the one.

Last edited by patschwieterman (2009-03-19 18:34:00)

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#7 2009-03-19 20:23:25

kem
Eggcornista
From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2143

Re: an eyas << a neias

I expected the list would grow when Pat jumped in. As usual, a gold mine/mind of examples. I worked through the ones he provided and expanded my list to twenty-four. Again, these are just n-metanalysis words, almost all from the assimilation or misdivision of the English “an.” Most are current in English. The ones marked with an asteroid (http://eggcorns.lascribe.net/forum/view … hp?id=3398) are possible eggcorns:

N-borrowers:
other/nother
otch/notch
umbilicus/nombril
ewt/newt
ekename/nickname
anes/nonce
own/nain
aunt/naunt
uncle/nuncle
idiot/nidiot-nidgit
ingle/ningle
alp/nope

N-losers:
neias/eyas*
nadder/adder*
napron/apron
nonper/umpire
nauger/auger
narenge/orange*
nought/ought
nache-bone/aitchbone [edgebone*]
numbles pie/humble pie*
anenome/emony
nettles/ettles
newest/ewest

Last edited by kem (2009-04-19 00:33:39)

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#8 2009-03-20 01:16:52

DavidTuggy
Eggcornista
From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-12
Posts: 1769
Website

Re: an eyas << a neias

Ought is a particularly dicey one. There is an ought (more commonly but not exclusively spelt aught )which means “something, anything”, as in “if any man has ought to declare”. The n – at the beginning of nought is the negative (cf. one/none, ever/never, aye/nay either/neither ). So this misdivision thing produces an ought that means “nothing” alongside one that means “something”. Truth is stronger than fiction, as they say.

Last edited by DavidTuggy (2009-03-20 12:41:56)


*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 2009-03-20 08:44:51

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

Re: an eyas << a neias

David Tuggy, are you saying that the “ought” that means nothing may have arisen as an extension of the meaning of “aught/ought”? If so, I think that’s certainly a possibility; such a positive/negative switch could happen.

The only etymology the OED editors offer for zero-type “ought” is the metanalytical one:

[Probably variant of NOUGHT n. with metanalysis (see N n.).

As always, I wish there were more explanation—esp. a reason for rejecting “aught” as the source.

They acknowledge in the article on “aught” that the “aught” and “ought” spellings were used interchangeably for “aught” in the sense of “something” by Shakespeare, Milton, and Pope. And perhaps that’s the problem for them. Their last citation of the “ought” spelling is 1845, but the first spelling for “ought” in the sense of “zero” appears a short time before—in 1821. And that word is apparently always spelled with an o, never an a. So my guess is that they felt that zero-ought appears a little too late and is spelled too consistently to be descended from “aught.” The truth may be that there’s a mixture of influences at work.

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#10 2009-03-20 12:46:16

DavidTuggy
Eggcornista
From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-12
Posts: 1769
Website

Re: an eyas << a neias

I’m no etymologist, but I agree that opposites are close enough in meaning that they may descend from each other. I myself have always (as far as I can remember) associated the o at the beginning of “ought” with the graphical shape we use to represent zero.
.
As you say, there is often, and probably therefore in this case, a mixture of influences at work.
.
Is a well-behaved child “aughty”, do you suppose?


*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 2009-03-20 17:39:20

kem
Eggcornista
From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2143

Re: an eyas << a neias

Etymologists? Aren’t those the people who study language bugs?

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#12 2009-03-21 03:59:39

DavidTuggy
Eggcornista
From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-12
Posts: 1769
Website

Re: an eyas << a neias

I resemble that remark very strongly, kem.
.
(I think I told you my preferred term is “Orthinologist”? Orthinologists are word-botchers.)


*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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#13 2013-05-13 16:55:13

kem
Eggcornista
From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2143

Re: an eyas << a neias

One we overlooked in this thread:

Ned most likely reflects reanalysis of an original sequence mine Ed ‘my Ed’, at a time when the possessive pronoun my showed a similar alteration between mine and my as in Mod. Engl. a:an.” —Hans Henrich Hock and Brian D. Joseph, Language History, Language Change, and Language Relationship (New York: Mouton de Gruyter, 1996), p. 310.

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#14 2013-05-13 21:10:50

David Bird
Eggcornista
From: Montréal, QC
Registered: 2009-07-28
Posts: 1180

Re: an eyas << a neias

I’ve been digging into the ecology of amphibians this year, and it occurred to me to look into a possible n-metanalytical stage for an eft, which is the terrestrial (immature) stage of a newt. Interestingly, it turns out that eft was the original name for these beasts. It’s not clear, apparently, whether the shift to newt occurred while it was still a neft or when it became an ewt.

Last edited by David Bird (2013-05-13 21:11:26)

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