Sunday, July 12, 2009

The eggcorn in your mouth peaked my interest.

I subscribe to only one mailing list. It has nothing to do with linguistics but has more than ten times in the past couple of months been incredibly interesting for the dirty word nerd in me. To be honest, the potential in this mailing list has racked me up on tender hooks as of late.

So, today I learned about eggcorns.

In linguistics, an eggcorn is an idiosyncratic substitution of a word or phrase for a word or words that sound similar or identical in the speaker's dialect. The new phrase introduces a meaning that is different from the original, but plausible in the same context. This is as opposed to a malapropism, where the substitution creates a nonsensical phrase. Classical malapropisms generally derive their comic effect from the fault of the user, whilst eggcorns are errors that exhibit creativity or logic.

Truth be told, that although I do consider myself a language fetishist, I have the extremely lazy habit of never rereading anything I write, probably because of my fortunate luck of being a naturally decent speller. That said, I learned about eggcorns today because a stranger called my bluff on the applicability of a word's usage this morning. And said stranger was absolutely right. I will spare you the dramatic narrative, but just know, I still have my foot in my mouth over this reality transcribed.


Other good eggcorns include:


for all intensive purposes instead of for all intents and purposes
old timers' disease instead of Alzheimer's disease
chomp at the bit instead of champ at the bit
hone in instead of home in
ripe with instead of rife with
curiosity peaked instead of curiosity piqued
preying mantis instead of praying mantis
spitting image instead of spit and image

3 comments:

steveowinlow said...

. . . and "tender hooks" instead of tenterhooks.

t. said...

Exactly. And peaked instead of piqued. Both.

steveowinlow said...

I hear peaked instead of piqued at least weekly, but tender hooks was new to me (and particularly appropriate for this blog). Maybe you should produce a pair (if you haven't already).