Discussions about eggcorns and related topics
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Chris -- 2018-04-11
If, for example, someone used the phrase “achehorn” for “acorn,” the coined phrase would probably not be an eggcorn, since nothing about “ache” or “horn” makes the substitution plausible—it’s just a mishearing or misspelling.
Here is a plausible eggcorn based on an ache for egg switch: a goose ache. A goose egg is a lump or swelling, usually on the head, from a collision. It can also refer to a sports score of zero. An ache makes sense for an injury. The poor goose is now bereft, however, and open for new interpretation.
All but the last of these examples come from diary blogs.
all of a sudden i heard carson screaming and my first thought was what now. Johnny brought him in the house and sure enough there was a goose ache.
(http://thejmsmithfamily.blogspot.com/20 … -ache.html)
I fell off my bike today…It hurt soo much but i got over it! I have a BIIG goose ache on my knee and my bike hurts! (http://www.nexopia.com/users/Deannalynn/blog/2314719)
Today has been an off day. When I bent down I ended up hitting my head on the counter giving myself a goose ache. Also I put my phone in the wash and it no longer works.
(http://mooneyesfullmoon.blogspot.com/20 … rning.html)
Like most of the night, the Skyhawks glorious opportunities to tie the game continued right down to the final buzzer and Stone didn’t want anything to do with letting the Skyhawks spoil his first career goose ache.
(http://www.baytoday.ca/content/sports/d … sp?c=16671)
Glans est optima.
Speaking of which, has anyone ever proposed a Latin name for eggcorns? I mentioned a late Latin eggcorn (laborinth: http://eggcorns.lascribe.net/forum/view … hp?id=3761) that could serve, but it would be better to have a Latin word that wasn’t also an eggcorn in English.
Hatching new language, one eggcorn at a time.
Whatever you choose, I think that a “glans” is a really bad option for an emblematic Latin eggcorn. I had to try to understand what you were saying by looking in a Latin dictionary – luckily, I happened to know that “quercus” is an oak, so with “fructus”, I got the idea. It is interesting that it suffers from the same double-entendre baggage as “eichel”. I loved “laborinth.” I think it holds the current record for dawn-of-time eggcorn.
Thinking again about a possible Latin term for eggcorns. There is a story told by Cicero in his work On Divination, Book II, about an omen given to Crassus, a member of the First Triumvirate, when he was loading his army on ships at Brindisi to begin the campaign against the Parthians. The venture would end badly with Crassus’ death and defeat at Carrhae.1 The Loeb Library’s English text of the passage, translated by W. A. Falconer, is online at http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/R … ne/2*.html . The Loeb translation of the text in question reads:
When Marcus Crassus was embarking his army at Brundisium a man who was selling Caunian figs at the harbour repeatedly cried out ‘Cauneas, Cauneas.’ Let us say, if you will, that this was a warning to Crassus to bid him ‘Beware of going,’ and that if he had obeyed the omen he would not have perished.
As the Loeb footnote to this text points out, the Latin word “cauneas” could also be heard as “cave ne eas.”2 “Cave ne eas” would mean, as the translation says, “beware of going.” If we can presume that the vendor was acting as a prophet, he was forecasting the disaster that befell Crassus and his army. Crassus heard the warning as the word “figs.” Figs from Caunea, a seaport in southwestern Turkey, were so popular that “caunea” had become one of the Latin terms for a fig. Possibly Crassus interpreted the “figs” of the street vendor as something more than a simple sales pitch.3 The fig tree was sacred to Rome: Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, were nurtured under one. Did the gullible Crassus think that “cauneas” was an omen of the future triumph of Rome over the Parthian foe?
I propose we call Latin eggcorns “cauneae,” Caunians. The word would be pronounced “COW-neh-aye” or “COW-neh-ee,” depending on whether we use the ecclesiastical or the traditional academci pronunciation of Latin. The singular term, denoting one eggcorn, would be “caunea,” pronounced “COW-neh-uh.” 4
(1) The relevant Latin text can be found here in paragraph 40.
(2) Latin does not have separate letters for “u” and “v.” When the letter is consonantal, it is usually transliterated with a “v” on the (possibly mistaken) assumption that the Romans used a different sound for the semiconsonant.
(3) A possibility that Cicero, our only source for the story, does not mention.
(4) The spelling “cauneas” in the text above is the accusative feminine plural of the adjective “cauneus.” What the vendor was yelling was short for “I sell Caunian figs,” “ ficus vendo cauneas.”
Last edited by kem (2009-08-11 18:53:21)
Hatching new language, one eggcorn at a time.
The word would be pronounced “COW-neh-aye”
A cow in the eye. Well.
*If the human mind were simple enough for us to understand,
we would be too simple-minded to understand it* .