Mistranscription of the month

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"Florida school shooting: Armed deputy on duty never went inside to confront gunman", Associated Press 2/22/2018:

The sheriff said he was "devastated, sick to my stomach. There are no words. I mean these families lost their children. We lost coaches. I've been to the funerals. I've been to the homes where they sit and shiver. I've been to the vigils. It's just, ah, there are no words."

"Correction: School Shooting-Florida story", Associated Press 2/26/2018:

In a story Feb. 22 about the Florida school shooting, The Associated Press misquoted Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel in some versions of the story when he spoke about the families of the victims. He said, "I've been to their homes where they're sitting shiva," not "where they sit and shiver."

Here's Wikipedia's description of the exotic ritual in question:

Shiva (Hebrew: שבעה‎, literally "seven") is the week-long mourning period in Judaism for first-degree relatives: father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister, and spouse. The ritual is referred to as "sitting shiva". Immediately after burial, people[1] assume the halakhic status of "avel" (Hebrew: אבל, "mourner"). This state lasts for seven days, during which family members traditionally gather in one home (preferably the home of the deceased) and receive visitors. At the funeral, mourners traditionally wear an outer garment or ribbon that was torn at the funeral in a ritual known as keriah. This garment is worn throughout shiva.

Obligatory screen shots:

Update — the same eggcornish misperception appeared in Dorothy Uhnak's 1993 novel The Ryer Avenue Story:

Update #2 — and also in Tom Dudzick's 1990 play Greetings — Alvin Klein, "THEATER; Meeting the Parents in 'Greetings'", NYT 10/14/1990:

For a setup, Mr. Dudzick has Andy (a 30-year-old Catholic) and his fiancee, Randi (a Jewish atheist) – much is made of their sound-alike names – on a plane to Pittsburgh to meet his parents. On Christmas Eve. […]

It's no giveaway to mention Phil's conniptions over the blasphemous, terminally logical Randi, who went to the Harvard Business School but happens to be a cab driver. That Mr. Dudzick treats a potential revelation of character as flippantly as his inane ethnic confusions (Rosh Hashogun for the Jewish New Year; "sit and shiver" for the ritual of "sitting shiva"), says much about his depth as a playwright.



  1. DejaKay said,

    February 26, 2018 @ 7:38 pm

    Steven Berkoff got there first:

    [(myl) Quoting the publisher's blurb:

    How a certain Jewish family mourns a dead patriarch. The term is 'sitting Shiva' (mourning for seven days), when friends and relatives commiserate, usually in the home of the deceased. As children, we always understood this to be 'sit and shiver', which also seemed most appropriate. While death has claimed the old man and triggered the usual inflated eulogies – 'how important a man becomes when they die' – it has also brought to the surface hidden anxieties and grievances, only exacerbated when a visitor shows up bearing strange news that threatens to tear the family apart.

    A Jewish black comedy in the Berkoff tradition.

    Sit and Shiver was first presented at the Odyssey Theater, Los Angeles, in March 2004. The European premiere was held at the New End Theatre, London, in association with Saw Productions, in May 2006.


  2. D.O. said,

    February 26, 2018 @ 10:07 pm

    "Sitting" is because bereaved are supposed to sit on low stools.

  3. Rube said,

    February 27, 2018 @ 8:08 am

    I remember this as being a gag on "Archie Bunker's Place", probably closer to 40 years ago than 30.

  4. BZ said,

    February 27, 2018 @ 1:19 pm

    Really, a pretty sensible mis-interpretation by a transcriber unfamiliar with the concept.

  5. Shihchuan said,

    February 28, 2018 @ 1:03 pm

    Does this mean that a non-rhotic accent was involved? (Either the sheriff or the reporter) But I wasn't aware if non-rhotic accent had a presence in Florida……

  6. Andrew Usher said,

    February 28, 2018 @ 11:39 pm

    Older Jews are commonly from the New York area and less than fully rhotic, and of course even if not the listener might not be sure of it. Even with the rhoticity issue, though, 'sit and shiver' might be the best approximation an unfamiliar listener can come up with – assuming 'shiva' is pronounced with the KIT vowel. A lot of Judaic vocabulary is spoken by American Jews with lax vowels where one wouldn't expect, presumably because of Yiddish influence (the very word Yiddish has a tense vowel in its standard German form).

    Anyway I'm surprised that this has never been recorded as an eggcorn up til now – or is it just too rare?

    k_over_hbarc at yahoo.com

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