Once so ever

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Jasmine Bailey, "Pennsylvania newlyweds kill for the thrill", 12/7/2013:

Friday night, police arrested 22-year-old Elytte Barbour in the November death of 42-year-old Troy LaFerrara. His 18-year-old wife, Miranda, was arrested for the same crime earlier this week. (Via WBRE)

She says LaFerrara groped her and after convincing her to turn herself into police, Elytte defended his wife’s story. (Via The Daily Item)

“I do not believe that this was malicious once so ever, I believe that she was attacked and that under those circumstances she took the necessary measures to defend herself.” (Via WHP-TV)

The phrase "once so ever" is phonetically  similar to "whatsoever", at least in fluent speech — but "once so ever" is if anything even less semantically transparent than "whatsoever". So perhaps this substitution shouldn't count as a classic eggcorn, though it's clearly the result of  a similar process.

Often, when such substitutions occur in print-media quotations, we have an attribution problem: was the original speaker responsible for the substitution, or did it happen somewhere further along the chain of transmission? In this case, we have a recording of the original quote, and so we know that the substitution took place at the transcription stage (or later):

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The same is true for a similar subsitution in an earlier TV News story — Joe Shortsleeve, "Questions Raised Over Wynn Land Deal For Possible Everett Casino", 11/21/2013 CBS Boston:

Everett City Councilor Mike McLaughlin says these questions about Charles Lightbody will not hurt Wynn’s plans.  

“I don’t think he has any involvement with this project once so ever. And I think the State Gaming Commission will do whatever is necessary to make sure casino gambling is successful,” McLaughlin said.

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And similarly for Erika Glover, "Ninety days to get out; church leaders negotiate with Transportation Cabinet", WKYT 11/12/2013:

Pastor Boggs said, "There's no way we can buy land and rebuild in three months and what they're offering will not pay for the land in this area once so ever."

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It's possible that all of these examples come from one source, such as a shared transcription service. But as I noted a couple of years ago ("These people make no sense once so ever", 9/23/2010), substituting "once so ever" for "whatsoever" is surprisingly common.

[Tip of the hat to Steven Tripp]

 

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30 Comments »

  1. Johanne D said,

    December 8, 2013 @ 7:23 am

    But "turn herself into police" didn't even catch you eye?

  2. GeorgeW said,

    December 8, 2013 @ 7:53 am

    In all three examples in the post, I hear "whatsoever" and it doesn't seem phonetically ambiguous. Is this my lying ears?

    [(myl) I also think it's pretty clear that the speakers in those three examples said "whatsoever", not "once so ever" -- that's why I asserted that the substitution must have been introduced at the stage of transcription (or possible subsequent editing, though this seems unlikely).

    However, I'm confident that a more slurred pronunciation, or a worse signal-to-noise ratio, could easily result in ambiguity.]

  3. Theophylact said,

    December 8, 2013 @ 8:04 am

    Same here. I was expecting "whutsoever" as the source of the confusion, but "what" was what I heard.

  4. Ellen K. said,

    December 8, 2013 @ 9:09 am

    GeorgeW and Theophylact, if you read the post, you will note he does indicate that all three quotes have "whatsoever" in the audio".

    Also, Theophylact, I'm curious what you mean to indicate as the difference between "whut" and "what". For me, they are pronounced the same, /wʌt/, and it sounds to me like all three quotes have this same /wʌt/ pronunciation.

  5. Mr Punch said,

    December 8, 2013 @ 10:14 am

    All of these examples are in fact transcriptions from radio/TV reports.

  6. Robert Coren said,

    December 8, 2013 @ 11:36 am

    @Johanne D: If I had a nickel for every "into" that should have been "in to"…

  7. GeorgeW said,

    December 8, 2013 @ 11:48 am

    @Ellen K.: So, if there is no phonetic ambiguity and the transcription includes a word/expression that doesn't exist in English and there would be little semantic confusion, how do we get these transcriptions? It doesn't even seem that a typo would be likely.

  8. Mark Mandel said,

    December 8, 2013 @ 12:05 pm

    @GeorgeW: It does exist in English, just not in our idiolects. Reread Mark L's last ¶:

    It's possible that all of these examples come from one source, such as a shared transcription service. But as I noted a couple of years ago ("These people make no sense once so ever", 9/23/2010), substituting "once so ever" for "whatsoever" is surprisingly common.

    All it would take is one transcriber or transcription service that accepts it.

  9. GeorgeW said,

    December 8, 2013 @ 12:14 pm

    @Mark Mandel: So, those who use "once so ever" misunderstand the majority of us who use "what" and they hear "once?"

    [(myl) Except where someone is being whimsical, this is logically required to explain usages like "eggcorn" for "acorn", "feeble position" for "fetal position", "voiceterous" for "boisterous", "coal-hearted" for "cold-hearted", "cut off one's nose despite one's face" for "cut off one's nose to spite one's face", etc. etc.]

  10. Lukas said,

    December 8, 2013 @ 2:40 pm

    Seems like a mistake that automatic speech recognition software might make.

  11. Bobbie said,

    December 8, 2013 @ 3:32 pm

    I've always liked the captioning on my local public TV station that posted "the Profit Mohammed" !

  12. Eric P Smith said,

    December 8, 2013 @ 4:40 pm

    In my idiolect, 'whatsoever' can only be used in NPs. To me, “I don’t think he has any involvement with this project whatsoever” and “These people make no sense whatsoever” are grammatical, but “I do not believe that this was malicious whatsoever” and “What they’re offering will not pay for the land in this area whatsoever” are not: I should say “at all” in both cases.

    Does any other reader admit to being old-fashioned enough to find the same thing?

  13. Theophylact said,

    December 8, 2013 @ 4:51 pm

    Ellen K: I hear a difference between "nut" and "not", as in the first (stressed) syllable in "whatsoever". But I come from New York, where "merry", "marry" and "Mary" are distinct, so waddayawant?

  14. Ellen K. said,

    December 8, 2013 @ 5:55 pm

    Theophylact, "nut" and "not" are different for me as well. And "what" (including whatsoever) has the vowel of "nut", not "not".

  15. Ellen K. said,

    December 8, 2013 @ 6:11 pm

    It's worth noting that we often don't notice when people pronounce things different from how we do in our own idiolect. Me, I come from a area with no pin/pen merger, and now live in an area with the merger. I rarely notice the merger, and lived here 20 years without even knowing about it. My brain can hear /ten/ with no problem even when someone pronounces it [tin]. So, yeah, I can see someone hearing "once so ever" even wear it's clearly pronounced as "what so ever". And the difference, for many of us, is simply a matter of nasalization.

  16. Andrew (yet another one) said,

    December 8, 2013 @ 7:50 pm

    Over here in Aus, I'm with you, Eric P. And confirm old-fashioned. Is this extended usage of "whatsoever" a US thing? I can't recall seeing it before.

  17. Jerry Friedman said,

    December 8, 2013 @ 9:46 pm

    I'm American, and I don't remember seeing this use of "whatsoever" either. I too would say "at all".

    The first hit I got at the BNC is "I don't they need to be involved in it whatsoever!" I saw only one other modifying an adjective in the first fifty hits (brace yourself): "That I don't think will please John Major or Mrs Thatcher (pause) for being, er (pause) seeing you fuelling and other directors and all the directors of our public companies (pause) fuelling inflation with their inflationary wage rises (pause) doesn't seem reasonable whatsoever…"

  18. Ø said,

    December 8, 2013 @ 11:00 pm

    Eric, I had much the same thought as you, but I would go a little further: the noun phrases that go with "whatsoever" are of a very restricted kind. There has to be a "no" or a "not any" or the like. For me the following would be grammatical:

    There was no malice whatsoever.
    There was none whatsoever.
    There was any malice whatsoever.

    The following would not be grammatical:

    There was not malice whatsoever.

  19. Alex said,

    December 9, 2013 @ 8:13 am

    I was also going to mention turning herself "into" police. Whoever transcribed this was probably having a bad day.

  20. Ø said,

    December 9, 2013 @ 8:38 am

    (Oops. I left out "not" before "any" in my third made-up example.)

  21. Theophylact said,

    December 9, 2013 @ 10:11 am

    Ellen K, wheah you fum?

  22. Ellen K. said,

    December 9, 2013 @ 10:18 am

    Theophylact, middle of the U.S. I don't think it's relevant to be more specific than that. If you are curious because of my pin/pen merger comments, well, you'll have to remain curious. No need to be more specific for the actual topic of conversation.

  23. Eric P Smith said,

    December 9, 2013 @ 10:52 am

    @Ellen K: I think Theophylact was alluding to your use of 'wear' for 'where'.

  24. Barbara Phillips Long said,

    December 9, 2013 @ 6:25 pm

    This kind of error (using "once so ever" instead of "whatsoever") and other eggcorns interest me, because they seem to be related to visual confusion about the spelling or meaning of a word. My theory is that the amount and type of reading a person does, perhaps combined with some visual problems with pattern recognition that make them poor spellers, contribute to the confusion.

    My current favorite item of confusion is the word dribble, which is being substituted for "drivel" on the PennLive (Harrisburg) comment forums. It's clear in context that drivel is the word intended.

  25. Theophylact said,

    December 10, 2013 @ 8:31 am

    Ellen K: No, it's your hut/hot merger. To me, "what" rhymes with "hot", not "hut". (Not being skilled in IPA, I'm limited in my descriptions here.)

  26. Ellen K. said,

    December 10, 2013 @ 9:41 am

    Hut/hot merger? I assure you, I pronounce those words the same. They rhyme with nut and not, which I already indicated are pronounced distinctly from each others for me. Please do try to refrain from baseless comments about my speech.

    As for the audio samples, when listening for the pronunciation of "what" in "whatsoever", I hear one rhyming it with "hot", one rhyming it with "hut", and one that I can't be sure about. So I don't agree with your assertion (if I understand you correctly) that they are all pronouncing it to rhyme with "hot").

  27. Ellen K. said,

    December 10, 2013 @ 9:43 am

    Oops… I mean I DO NOT pronounce those words the same, I pronounce them differently. Should have proofread before posting.

  28. Lazar said,

    December 10, 2013 @ 5:00 pm

    @Ellen K.: What Theophylact should have said is (perhaps) the "from-rum" merger. This merger is predominant in North America, and it causes a group of stressed function words (from, what, was, of, everybody, anybody) to use /ʌ/ rather than the /ɒ/(=/ɑː/ in GA) that they take in other dialects.

  29. Lazar said,

    December 10, 2013 @ 5:18 pm

    Oh, and "because". I knew I was forgetting something. Less commonly, the merger can occur in "want", or (here in New England) "got".

  30. Chandra said,

    December 11, 2013 @ 3:31 pm

    I actually don't find "once so ever" less semantically transparent than "whatsoever". I could see people assuming that the eggcorn is a shortened version of something like "not once, so not ever".

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