Via Elizabeth at Charlottesville Words: The Eggcorn Database.
The word eggcorn was coined collectively by the linguists who write at the excellent group blog Language Log.
Linguists collect usage examples. Unlike language teachers or the often
self-styled grammar experts who complain in the press about the decay
of English, they are not picky: the actual, real-life use is what
counts, and the most interesting bits — those that might reveal
something about how real people apprehend their language — often
stretch the received rules of correctness.
In September 2003, Mark Liberman reported (Egg corns: folk etymology, malapropism, mondegreen, ???)
an incorrect yet particularly suggestive creation: someone had written
“egg corn” instead of “acorn”. It turned out that there was no
established label for this type of non-standard reshaping. Erroneous as
it may be, the substitution involved more than just ignorance: an acorn
is more or less shaped like an egg; and it is a seed, just like grains
of corn. So if you don’t know how acorn is spelled, egg corn actually makes sense.
Other examples of eggcorns are:
"for all intensive purposes"
"here, here" (instead of "hear, hear")
"coming down the pipe"
The aforementioned Elizabeth gets credit for spotting a new eggcorn in common usage, and it is now included in the dictionary: "half-hazard."
Eggcorns are different from malapropisms, which can also be fun to watch for. A malapropism is a word used in place of the correct word, where the substitution sounds similar to the intended word but means something vastly different, often resulting in quite comical sentences. A famous example is the line uttered by Curly of the Three Stooges: "I resemble that remark!"
(The link takes you to WikiPedia, where there are many more examples of malapropisms and eggcorns, including a malapropism that made me laugh out loud: "New Scientist also reported the first-ever malapropism for
"malapropism", when, having become aware of his error, the office
worker apologized, saying he had committed a "Miss Marple-ism." No doubt he was thinking of Mrs. Malaprop, the character in Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s play, The Rivals, whose comical linguistic errors gave rise to the term.)
So a malapropism is a wrong word used in place of a word that sounds similar, but not identical, and has a totally different meaning. An eggcorn is a substitution that sounds the same or almost the same as a word or phrase—so similar, and making just enough sense, that it often passes into common usage: "blatantly obvious" instead of "patently obvious."
Don’t you just love the English language?
I read about Daily Lit at The Common Room last week:
Get thee to Daily Lit, where you can sign up for a bite sized daily dose of good reading:
sends books in installments via e-mail. DailyLit currently offers over
250 classic public domain titles that can be subscribed to and read in
their entirety for free. Popular titles include "The Art of War" by Sun
Tzu and "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen Readers can choose how
often and at what time they want the e-mails sent to them (e.g. every
weekday at 6:30am). Books on DailyLit can be read any place that a
reader receives e-mail, including on a PDA, Blackberry, Trio, etc. Each
installment of a book can be read in under 5 minutes, and if a reader
is done with a particular installment, a reader can receive the next
installment immediately in his/her e-mail Inbox. DailyLit has recently
added forums where readers can discuss their favorite books and
You can search by category, title, or
author. These are arranged alphabetically, of course, and once you’ve
chosen, say, all the ‘B’ titles, you can arrange those by length to
give you some idea of what you’re getting into. For instance, under
‘b,’ Herman Melville’s Bartleby will come to you in only 18 short and
easy parts, the gospel of Mark in 22, Charles Dickens’ Bleak House in
440 light installments.
Naturally I had to mosey over for a look-see. I signed up to receive Anna Karenina by email. Have never read it, have meant to for a long time. Wish I didn’t already know the ending.
I’ve received three email installments so far, and I’m surprised by how funny the opening of the book is. I had no idea it had any comic element at all. I’m enjoying it, but I don’t know if I’ll stick with the emails. It’s not just that a book is cozier, though that’s a lot of it. I’m feeling like reading a novel via email is coloring my experience with the book. I’m "hearing" it like I hear email: the conversational tone, the back-of-the-mind impression that what I’m reading is something transient, fleeting, something that can be deleted with the touch of a button.
The Deputy Headmistress revisited the subject yesterday, inviting readers to share the titles we’ve signed up for. I liked her list so much I went back and browsed the archives some more. Maybe nonfiction would work better for me via email?
You can also subscribe to a book’s feed, so that daily installments will show up in your feed reader. That’s exactly the idea I had last year, when I was tempted to create a Charlotte Mason blog that would work its way through her books. I was too busy, so I offered the idea up for grabs, and the amiable Amy took up the mission. I’ve been enjoying her daily CM installments ever since.
Since the RSS feed format has suited for CM, I decided to give it a try for a Daily Lit offering as well. One of the DHM’s picks was Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, which I haven’t read (except for quotes here and there) since college. High time I revisited it. There are so many great works available that I was tempted to sign up for a bunch, but I know I won’t be able to keep up. The TBR pile at my bedside has grown to ridiculous proportions. It was taller than Rilla, but it fell over. I think she pushed it.
June 16, 2007 @ 10:16 am | Filed under: Family
Scott is reading Karen Edmisten’s answers to the marriage meme.
"Hey!" he says. " ‘What side of the bed do you sleep on? The side children always seem to show up on.’ How come in our house, I’m always the one to get up with the kid who appears beside the bed at night?"
Me: "Because I’m the one who nurses the babies."
Him: "Hmm. I’m pretty sure I’m the one who gets up, even when there isn’t a nursing baby in the picture."
Me: "That’s because it’s cold out there!"
Karen E. noticed that a1books.com has a selection of the original, unabridged editions of some of my Martha and Charlotte books for reasonable prices, if you’re still looking.
The abridged versions are in the bookstores now, and please note that although the covers say "by Melissa Wiley," I declined to have any involvement in the cutting down. I have not read them. I did notice that one of my fairy tales in Highlands was pulled out and reprinted in the back of the book, under a heading about how "Martha loved when her mother told her stories." Eek.