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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 ("old-timers' disease" for "Alzheimer's disease"). 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.[1] Eggcorns often involve replacing an unfamiliar, archaic, or obscure word with a more common or modern word ("baited breath" for "bated breath").[2]

[edit] Creation and definition

The term "eggcorn" was coined by Geoffrey Pullum in September 2003, in response to an article by Mark Liberman on the website Language Log, a blog for linguists.[3] Liberman discussed the case of a woman who substitutes the phrase egg corn for the word acorn, arguing that the precise phenomenon lacked a name; Pullum suggested using "eggcorn" itself.

While there are several similar classes of linguistic deviation which have been recognised for longer, Liberman argues that the original "egg corn" does not fit any of them:

  • It is not a folk etymology: it is an error made by an individual, rather than an entire community over time.
  • It is not a malapropism: egg corn and acorn are nearly homophonous in the dialect in question, while malapropisms feature only vaguely similar words.
  • It is not a mondegreen: it is an error of misinterpretation from common speech rather than from a lyric or similar recitation, and also does not acquire an entirely new meaning.

[edit] Examples

A fairly extensive list of Eggcorn examples can be found at the Eggcorn Database.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ a b Peters, Mark (Mar/April 2006). "Word Watch: The Eggcorn -- Lend Me Your Ear". Psychology Today 39 (2): p.18. Retrieved on 2006-07-13. 
  2. ^ Staff (2006-08-26). "The word: Eggcorns". New Scientist. pp. 52. Retrieved on 2006-12-21.  LexisNexis link
  3. ^ Erard, Michael (June 20, 2006). "Analyzing Eggcorns and Snowclones, and Challenging Strunk and White". New York Times. pp. 4. Retrieved on 2006-12-21. 
  4. ^ The Eggcorn Database » intensive purposes
  5. ^ The Eggcorn Database » hone see also Language Log: Homing in on 'honing in on,' Jan 24, 2004 and Language Log: "Hone in on" before "home in on"?, Nov 3, 2005
  6. ^ The Eggcorn Database » dessert
  7. ^ Eggcorn Forum / Alzheimer's Disease not Old Timers Disease
  8. ^ The Eggcorn Database » tenderhooks
  9. ^ The Eggcorn Database » once and a while
  10. ^ a b Language Log: Eggcorn news flashes April 9, 2007
  11. ^ The Eggcorn Database » prey
  12. ^ Eggcorn Forum / sore grapes << sour grapes
  13. ^ Saner, Emine (2006-10-05). "Tiny eggcorns, mighty gaffes". The Guardian. pp. 2.,,1887732,00.html. Retrieved on 2006-12-21. 
  14. ^ Quinion, Michael (2004-01-17). "World Wide Words: Toe the line". World Wide Words. Retrieved on 2008-09-26.  See also The Eggcorn Database
  15. ^ Freeman, Jan (2007-04-08). "Wanton Eggcorns". The Boston Globe. Retrieved on 2006-07-13. 

[edit] Further reading

[edit] External links

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