Archive for Eggcorns

"You have foraged relationships with many presidents"

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The Road to Wazoo

The OED has wazoo, n., glossed as "The buttocks; the anus",  noting that it is used "Freq. as a (euphemistic) substitute for ass in fig. phrases, as pain in the wazoo, etc.", giving special notice to the expression up (also out) the wazoo, glossed as "in great quantities, in abundance, to excess.

Wiktionary has the gloss "(vulgar, slang) the anus; ass", with derived terms listed as up the wazoo and out the wazoo, both glossed as "(vulgar, idiomatic) up the ass; excessive or excessively; too much".

But as a result of phonetic processes like those discussed here the other day, the pronunciation of the in a phrase like "up the wazoo" often overlaps with what the pronunciation of to would be in a similar context.

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Central European incomprehensibility

From Nikola Gotovac:

Today I was introduced to the web page "The directed graph of stereotypical incomprehensibility".  

There is one quite common misconception about Croatian language on that graph (and similar languages – Slovenian, Serbian, and Bosnian). To be more precise, the expression "it is all spanish village to me" is actually mis-translated to english, since the saying is "to su meni španska sela". In Croatian language the adjective for spanish is "španjolska", not "Španska". "Španska" means – one owned by "špan", or in today-croatian, "župan".

Please check Wikipedia for meaning of the term Župan. As the župan is part of governing establishment, the expression means "it is all strange to me" or "it does not belong to me, so I do not know" or "it is somebody else's (thing)".  Therefore, although it is tempting to direct this expression on Spain, the meaning is quite different.

Although I know next to nothing about Croatian, a bit of web search suggests that Dr. Gotovac is wrong, and that the župan idea is a philological eggcorn.

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Some evidence that we might be drifting back towards Elizabethan spelling rules (i.e. "whatever, dude"):

[link] More raw and grizzly testimony expected in Dylann Roof case

[link] Just before Snyder held her news conference, Oakland police and fire chaplain Jayson Landeza took several family members to the grizzly site.

[link] A grizzly piece of evidence has been returned to the family whose loved one died in an officer-involved shooting in Wauwatosa in June.

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Return of the Mazel Tov Cocktail

Maya Rhodan, "A Donald Trump Surrogate Strangely Accused Jay Z of Promoting ‘Mazel Tov’ Cocktails", Time Magazine 11/7/2016:

A surrogate of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump accused Jay Z, who performed at a rally for Hillary Clinton last week, of promoting police violence in a video that featured “mazel tov cocktails.”  

“One of his main videos starts off with a crowd throwing mazel tov cocktails at the police,” Scottie Nell Hughes said on CNN.

The obligatory audio:

Ms. Hughes is not the first prominent Republican to get these two mixed up: "Mazel Tov, Molotov, whatever", 12/11/2014.

See also: Maura Judkis, "The Mazel Tov Cocktail is real. And it's delicious", Washington Post 11/7/2016.

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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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