Archive for Eggcorns

China reigns

Headline from the China Daily:

"China reigns in brutal police tactics" (9/9/03)

This hilarious misspelling causes China's widest circulating English-language newspaper accidentally to have a true headline.

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From today's For Better or For Worse, a seasonal eggcorn:

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Eggcorn makes it into Merriam-Webster

And NPR commemorates the event: Mark Memmott, "'Eggcorns': The Gaffes That Spread Like Wildflowers", Weekend Edition 5/30/2015.

Here's the LLOG post where the term was first suggested: "Egg corns: Folk Etymology, Malapropism, Mondegreen, ???", 9/23/2003.  There are quite a few eggcorn-related posts in LLOG Classic and New LLOG as well. And anyone interested in the topic should check out Chris Waigl's Eggcorn Database.

See also Katy Steinmetz,  "This Is What ‘Eggcorns’ Are (and Why They’re Jar-Droppingly Good)", Time Magazine 5/30/2015.

[Note, by the way, that eggcorn made the Oxford English Dictionary back in 2010, and the American Heritage Dictionary in 2011.]


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Eggcorn of the month

James Fallows discusses his experience as a juror — "Build Your Vocabulary, 'Ass Baton' Edition", The Atlantic 5/2/2015:

Through the examination and cross-exams in this case, attorneys for both sides were careful to make sure that even very familiar terms were spelled out to remove the last bit of ambiguity. […]

There was one exception, the term I kept hearing as "ass baton." At one crucial point in this case, a white (as it happened, and young and ostentatiously fit) police officer was chasing a black (as it happened, and older and heavier) suspect down a dark alley, on foot. The policeman soon tackled the defendant from behind. What happened next?

"I struck him with the ass baton, and then I secured his hands with flexi-cuffs, and …" "And was the suspect injured by the ass baton?" "He did not appear to be, but since he would not say anything to us, as a routine precaution after use of the ass baton we called an ambulance…"

I learned afterwards that the other 11 members of the jury were all thinking roughly what I was: "Ass baton? Am I the only person who has never heard of this? I guess I can understand what it could mean, in context. You've got your hand cuffs, and your leg restraints. But really, an ass baton?" A jury isn't allowed to ask questions in court. 

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Wasn't haven't it, ain't haven't it

Renditions of "wasn't having it" as "wasn't haven't it" are pretty common. Some examples from web search:

yeah, he tried but seen that I wasn't haven't it.
Rookie wasn't haven't it.
Richard wasn't haven't it today.
Ms. Claudia wasn't haven't it lol you started it & Claudia finished it.

And from twitter:

He was trynna touch up on the girls b4 practice someone told the coaches & they  wasn't haven't it AT ALL bruh.
Had to relax my hair by force!  The comb wasn't haven't it lol
I tried to tell you Mike Wallace wasn't haven't it!!
Great game from Linden tonight… RC tried to play bully ball but Linden wasn't haven't it#uctfinals

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On their glass legs

From Levana Taylor:

The Ithaca Times [Josh Brokaw, "First Black Frat Gets Historical Status", 4/9/2015) quotes someone speaking about a dilapidated house that his organization wants to buy and restore: "It’s really on a glass leg right now, especially after this especially severe winter.” I wonder whether the guy really said “on a glass leg” or whether the reporter misheard “on its last leg(s)”

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Ryan Broderick,"People Are Actually Writing The Word 'Firstable' Online Instead Of 'First Of All': What has the internet done to our brains?".  In response, Ben Zimmer entered firstable in the Eggcorn Database, noting uses back to 1996:

  • Firstable, the term “indian” and christianity were imposed in Peru through blood and fire by European conquerors.(Marxism mailing list, Jan. 28, 1996)
  • Here is an essay written as part of the admissions procedure for our University Honors Program… “Firstable, to stay away from the reality of those traps that people are facing, I would be felt some classes if I weren’t focus.” (HAPP mailing list, Oct. 26, 2000)
  • I have many ways to explorate but firstable, I would like to work on relations between the “recall” of roman empire and colonial theories / words / language. (H-West-Africa mailing list, Mar. 3, 2002)
  • Well firstable thanks so much to you and to Wuwei Liang because it is a very helpful tool. (VMD mailing list, Nov. 8, 2005)
  • Well, firstable, it was very boring. (Freshman Seminar @ Baruch College, Dec. 3, 2009)
  • Firstable you have to know that the room and bathroom were very dirty and unhealthy. (TripAdvisor, Jan. 8, 2013)
  • Firstable, you’re asked to pay your room in advance. (TripAdvisor, Oct. 3, 2013)

The fact that examples go back at least to 1996 suggests that the internet is not really the culprit.

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Grater, grader, whatever

Dan Hanzus, "Gruden on DJax: 'He wants to block, he just is little'", Around the NFL 10/16/2014:

The Washington Redskins did not sign DeSean Jackson to be a road-grater.

The 5-foot-10, 178-pound wide receiver gets paid to make big plays, not clear the way for them. But that didn't stop several D.C.-area media members from calling Jackson out for his apparent lack of effort in blocking situations during Sunday's loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

Perhaps the loudest voice came from former Redskins tight end Chris Cooley, who offered up a stinging critique of Jackson's game after some film study.

"Do not allow number 11 to ever be involved in blocking for screens, blocking for bubbles, picking for players in the pass game, (or) run plays to his side of the line of scrimmage," Cooley said, via the DC Sports Bog. "He WILL NOT TRY on them. Do not put him in those situations."

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Fairy Ann

David Shariatmadari, "That eggcorn moment: If you’ve been signalled out by friends for saying ‘when all is set and done’, you’re not alone – linguists even have a word for it", The Guardian 9/16/2014:

Learning your mother tongue might seem effortless, but doesn’t always go without a hitch. In particular, you may hear certain sets of words and break them down wrongly in your head. So long as your version is plausible, sounds the same, and you’re not asked to write it down, the error can persist for years. I was in sixth form when I realised my version of “as opposed to” wasn’t widely shared. I thought it was “as a pose to”, which in my head implied some kind of challenge to an existing idea, like posing a question.

Confirming the general public's fascination with linguistics, there are 1108 comments so far.

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Spit(ting| and) images

Bob Moore was taken aback by "spit and image" in Frank Bruni's 9/9/2014 NYT Op-Ed, and wondered whether it was an eggcorn for "spitting image":

I worry about the combustible tension between our abysmal regard for the Congress that we’ve got and a near certainty that the Congress we’re about to get will be its spit and image: familiar faces, timeworn histrionics, unending paralysis.

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Whoa be tide

Ruth Blatt, "The Lean And Mean Led Zeppelin Organization", Forbes 9/6/2014:

The Zeppelin organization was small by today’s standards, with a crew of only about 15 people traveling with the band. The band itself would arrive 30 minutes before a show. “They would turn up and they would go in the dressing room. There was no change of clothes or wardrobe or any of the poncy stuff. And whoa be tide if the stuff wasn’t ready,” he said “And it always was.”

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Whole heartily

Rod Dreher, 'The Coming Methodist Schism", 3/11/2014, quoting an anonymous Methodist pastor:

One of my more moderate theology professors once told me that you could take the platform of the Democrat Party, take out the Party name and replace it with God and the UMC and most all of the faculty, staff, administration, and student body would whole heartily support it.

A literal global replacement of "Democrat(s)" with "God and the UMC" in the 2012 Democratic Party platform produces somewhat bizarre results — the first sentence becomes (with the replacement-site in bold face)

Four years ago, God and the UMC, independents, and many Republicans came together as Americans to move our country forward.

And the third paragraph (with pluralization to preserve grammaticality) starts

We Gods and the UMC offer America the opportunity to move our country forward by creating an economy built to last and built from the middle out.

But anyhow, the reason that Kim Temple sent me a link to Mr. Dreher's article was not to give me this opportunity for substitutional humor, but rather to point out the charming eggcornish blend "whole heartily".

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Pathing the way

AKMA writes:

A student paper crossed my desk this week, in which the author wrote that the Letter to the Hebrews "pathed the way" for an understanding that Christ's superior sacrifice renders redundant the daily sacrifice in the Temple.  

A quick Google check for the phrase (new to me) shows about 167,000 results; it doesn't seem to show up in the eggcorn database or the forums (though I may be searching poorly). The substitution makes ample sense (apart from the nonstandard verb "pathe"), but I hadn't noticed it until today.

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