Sweet Jersey eggcorn

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Alexa O writes:

My daughter, who is two, loves corn. She loves it so much that she talks about it all the time. Since she is two and also loves eggs, she calls it "eggcorn."

On a whim, my mother wiki-ed "eggcorn" and, lo and behold, we discovered your term.

I can't tell you how excited I was, because I love saying "eggcorn" (was there ever a more satisfying set of syllables?) and now I have an excuse to do so even after my daugther stops asking to eat it.

I was even more excited when I found the various websites, including the Language Log and The Eggcorn Database, that gave so many delicious examples of said phenomenon.

So Alexa wrote an eggcorn-enriched blog post, "The Word of the Week, or: Eggcorn, Mommy, Eggcorn!", 7/28/2010. Which I recommend, even though she calls us

the famous (in dork circles) Language Log, which is an online blog for linguists. (Not for the feint-hearted.  This is technical writing at its most dense.)

Dense? Please. Don't tempt me.


  1. Bob Lieblich said,

    July 28, 2010 @ 2:33 pm

    Now we have to tell her about "serendipity."

  2. beamish said,

    July 28, 2010 @ 2:34 pm

    And 'feint-hearted'

    [(myl) I think you've found one of the five eggcorns that Alexa hid in her post.]

  3. Mark P said,

    July 28, 2010 @ 2:35 pm

    Dorks? I have told several of my friends about LL, but as yet they do not frequent it.

  4. John Lawler said,

    July 28, 2010 @ 2:38 pm

    So, lexically speaking, is a dork a variety of geek, or vice versa?
    Or are they (we?) in contrast? How about a scatterplot?

    [(myl) The question has been been addressed several times, though I haven't located any scatterplots. Unless you'll accept these.]

  5. greg said,

    July 28, 2010 @ 3:00 pm

    at least she didn't call it "The Language Log"

  6. Jac said,

    July 28, 2010 @ 3:12 pm

    I prefer the xkcd version of geeki- and nerdiness: http://xkcd.com/747/.

    [(myl) Another Venn diagram? Where are the scatterplots? Come on, people!]

  7. Vance Maverick said,

    July 28, 2010 @ 3:39 pm

    I did find all five — well, five anyway — but I had to scan the post twice after the first cursory read.

  8. Jac said,

    July 28, 2010 @ 3:45 pm

    Here's a flow chart: http://scicurious.wordpress.com/2010/07/25/the-geek-hierachy-new-and-possibly-improved/.

    Sorry no scatterplot.

  9. Alexa O said,

    July 28, 2010 @ 3:56 pm

    Ahh, I see where I made my first mistake.

    I forgot to make it clear that I consider "dork" to be a compliment of the highest order. Am I wrong about this? Is geek better? Nerd?

    I mean, c'mon guys, I'm totally, like, your groupie! The post is practically an ode to linguistics.

    And given that it took you all of two comments to start talking about diagramming dorks and geeks, I stand by my statements.

    Dorky and dense. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

  10. Mr. Fnortner said,

    July 28, 2010 @ 7:03 pm

    As an aside, a toddler I know calls french fries, "hot". His parents, evidently, hand them to him while saying "hot", so he naturally has picked up the term.

  11. John Walden said,

    July 29, 2010 @ 2:01 am

    15 years ago my son decided that 'original' meant 'boring', from his interpretation of 'Available in chocolate, orange, banana and original flavour'. He would say 'I liked it but it tasted a bit original'.

    [(myl) Note that even before your son's innovation, original could mean novel and innovative ("what an original idea!") or old and prior to change ("their original home was near the Caspian Sea").]

  12. Q. Pheevr said,

    July 29, 2010 @ 4:18 am

    I have dork circles under my eyes from staying up all night reading geeky blogs.

  13. pj said,

    July 29, 2010 @ 6:35 am

    Just stumbled on a terrific eggcorn: 'officialnardos'

  14. Nick Lamb said,

    July 29, 2010 @ 6:36 am

    I quite like the idea of "original flavour" meaning a genuinely novel flavour.

    "Now available in original flavour"

  15. Sili said,

    July 29, 2010 @ 2:37 pm

    Re Original:

    One of the most annoying parts of fanfiction is "original characters" – characters in the story who are original to the author, and thus not canonically part of the world they inhabit.

    These are more than 95% or the time author self-inserts and Mary-Sues and they conform to pretty standard conventions and habits (there are cladistics of Mary-Sues out there in fandom-world, made by other people who hate them). Thus in short these 'Original Characters" (so common they're known as OCs (not to be confused with OOC meaning "out of character", though that usually is de rigeur for the characterisation of canon characters in such OC settings)) are indeed very rarely original. I used to called them "unoriginal characters", but I like the idea of just interpreting it as "boring" (not least since I'm not unfond of vanilla).

  16. Mr Fnortner said,

    July 29, 2010 @ 4:56 pm

    Original = first, and thus, new. At root it is source. Accordingly, one's original house is first and therefore old, while an original idea is first and therefore new (debatable). "Tom's original idea is outdated, but his new idea is original."

  17. Sybil said,

    July 30, 2010 @ 2:23 am

    I'm replying to this late, but it took a lot of time until what I was trying to recall came to mind.

    The statement "the famous (in dork circles) Language Log, which is an online blog for linguists. (Not for the feint-hearted. This is technical writing at its most dense.)"

    reminded me of the time a post on my blog provoked a comment on another blog on which I participated: the commenter said that I had made their head hurt.

    My son had to explain to me that this was meant as a compliment, of a kind. I have to add that the commenter is in a field which requires that one have an advanced degree from a rather demanding class of degree programs, and so, could be said in some sense to be objectively "smart". And the post in question was not about mathematics, in case you're wondering.

    I couldn't figure out how "you made my (educated) head hurt" was supposed to be a compliment, but when I expressed my dismay, I got battered on all sides.

    I would try to tease out some conclusion about American intellectual life, had I not been burned already.

  18. only asking said,

    July 30, 2010 @ 11:39 am

    I left a comment here a few hours ago about an scam e-mail I got today, which referred to the sender having an illness 'which defiled medical treatment'. I thought it relevant, not to say funny, but it has since disappeared. So am trying again.

  19. Jerry Friedman said,

    July 30, 2010 @ 3:18 pm

    @Sybil: "You make my head hurt" can mean "You're so smart you can talk about things that are very hard for me to understand."

    @John Lawler: My students mostly use dork to mean idiot, so for them it probably contrasts with geek. For me it has more to do with social awkwardness, but it doesn't imply being good at something the way geek does.

    (ObNegativePolarity: At first I wrote "It doesn't imply being good at anything.")

    @Alexa O.: Guilty as charged, your honor. On all counts.

  20. Jerry Friedman said,

    July 31, 2010 @ 6:09 pm

    Where are the scatterplots? Come on, people!

    Having been warned recently about using my subjective impressions as data, a survey was taken of a large sample of a friend of mine,1 a fluent speaker of Northern New Mexico Hispanic Vernacular English. He was asked to define the words. He said he understood that a geek was someone who was good at computers, and a dork was someone who did stupid things (though not anyone, as he said someone else was not a dork, and when that person did stupid things, he was more of an asshole). He was then asked to rate the geekiness and dorkiness of three people (the experimental subject, the experimenter, and a mutual friend who teaches computer science and fixes computers). His answers were quantified and a scatter plot generated using the WordPress package. Each person was represented by an obscenicon: @ for the subject, $ for the experimenter, and * for the CS teachers.

     &nbsp&nbsp&nbsp &nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp Dorkiness
    Sometimes | @&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp &nbsp $&nbsp&nbsp  &nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp &nbsp&nbsp*  
    &nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp  |______________________  Geekiness
     &nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp   No&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp You could be &nbsp&nbsp&nbsp  Yes

    This is considered evidence that the two words are neither positively nor negatively correlated.

    Any flaws in the plot are due to the fact that it looks fine in Preview.

    1More precisely, a sample of a large friend of mine.

  21. Jerry Friedman said,

    July 31, 2010 @ 6:10 pm

    Well, maybe it's funnier this way.

  22. Jerry Friedman said,

    July 31, 2010 @ 6:58 pm

    Just out of curiosity…



    Sometimes |  @               $               *
                     |_______________________  Geekiness

                        No      You could be      Yes

    [(myl) Nice try, but to justify your geekiness rating, you need to supply the table of raw data so that we can generate multi-colored graphs in .png format. (Generate them yourself, and you could move up a notch on the scale.)]

  23. Jerry Friedman said,

    August 1, 2010 @ 12:50 am

    Hey, it's his rating of me. He's the one who has to justify it.

    The asterisk makes that point look a little higher. I'm going to have to remember that trick.

  24. Fencerdoug said,

    February 19, 2014 @ 11:43 pm

    Question: Is there a word for a misplaced homophone? I am not speaking of an eggcorn, but rather a more simple error such as "the horse trotted with a easy gate". This is not a matter of hearing the word wrong, or an error creating a humorous result, or an intentional error for humor or other purpose, it is a matter of poor spelling. Spell-check, will ignore this error as the word "gate" is spelled correctly, and the syntax demands a noun in that location.

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