August 26, 2004 11:03 AM   Subscribe

Just a hand-few of eggcorns grows a forest? Among the pursuits of linguistics blog Language Log is the examination of certain quasi-spelling errors appropriately dubbed eggcorns. Not quite results of folk etymology, they nonetheless possess a certain inner logic that invites their recurring use as well as their analysis.

No proper repository exists yet; enter 'eggcorn' into the site's search engine to view the growing harvest.
posted by LinusMines (31 comments total)
Also, a recent column on eggcorn-hunting.
posted by LinusMines at 11:07 AM on August 26, 2004

I suppose "could of" (as opposed to "could have") is a very common, if somewhat boring, eggcorn? Language is fun.
posted by jpoulos at 11:11 AM on August 26, 2004

For all intensive purposes, this is cool.
posted by MrMoonPie at 11:34 AM on August 26, 2004

The "formally/formerly" confusion bugs the living crap out of me.

A headline in the "Living/Arts" section of the Boston Globe last week contained this particular solecism--"This prejudice, formally unspoken, is now coming into the light."


The nation formerly known as Rhodesia is now formally known as Zimbabwe in its diplomatic communications.

It's not that difficult, now is it?
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:46 AM on August 26, 2004

I see that one everyday, Sidhedevil.
posted by MrMoonPie at 11:51 AM on August 26, 2004

I cringe when I hear people pluralize "incident" as "incidences". Although it doesn't take much to make me cringe at the best of times...
posted by at 11:56 AM on August 26, 2004

Just because thats the way ewe here it doesn't mean that's the way you spell it! Its time to tow the line or they're will be hell to pay!

(special bonus points if you can pick out all my intentional misspellings. Super-secret double points if you can pick out the ones I put in there accidentally).
posted by adamrice at 12:42 PM on August 26, 2004

It's a doggie-dog world!
posted by Turtles all the way down at 12:50 PM on August 26, 2004

adamrice, that's "hell toupee."

Get it right. Jeezus.
posted by chicobangs at 12:56 PM on August 26, 2004 [1 favorite]

Orally administrated hot sauce all around, especially to those people who write 'more then' and 'rediculous'. GGGgrgrgrrngngnng.
posted by chrid at 1:25 PM on August 26, 2004

Haha! I eggcorned my own ass. Dammit.
posted by chrid at 1:26 PM on August 26, 2004

I worked for pointy-haired manager in Chicago a few jobs back that liked to mangle the phrase "object oriented" into "object orientated", making me cringe every time.

Oh, and Sidhedevil, problems with substituting "formally" for "formerly" in the Boston paper might very well be compounded by fact New Englanders tend to pronounce both words the same.
posted by SteveInMaine at 1:53 PM on August 26, 2004

Um, that would be who liked...
posted by SteveInMaine at 1:55 PM on August 26, 2004

I see that one everyday

Heh. MrMoonPie, if you thought that one would slip by without a plaudit, you got another thing coming.
posted by soyjoy at 2:29 PM on August 26, 2004

poor spellers often suffer from low self of steam.
posted by quonsar at 3:03 PM on August 26, 2004

Homer Simpson: "Who made you Judge Judy and executioner?"
posted by quonsar at 3:10 PM on August 26, 2004

The one that bugs me is "gender rolls". Unless you're at an erotic bakery, it's "gender roles".
posted by Shoeburyness at 4:32 PM on August 26, 2004

I just loose my mind whenever I see "greater then." (Or if I read someone using loose when he or she means lose.)
posted by AstroGuy at 5:29 PM on August 26, 2004

Thanks, q - I was looking for a new sig.
posted by dash_slot- at 5:31 PM on August 26, 2004

Mr. MP--I don't see it everyday, but I do see it alot.

SteveinMaine--I was borne in Massachusettes, so I did know that.

(I once received a student paper that suggested that Moby Dick was "an intellectual Tour de France". No small feet, that.)
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:58 PM on August 26, 2004

Irregardless of the efforts of the erudite, people will keep talking as they always have.
posted by Octaviuz at 8:07 PM on August 26, 2004

Indeed, Octaviuz; and we are fortunate that it is so, as errors of this sort make it easy to identify and ignore the opinions of the uneducated.
posted by Mars Saxman at 8:28 PM on August 26, 2004


I, for one, welcome our new self-referential, endlessly-recursive overlords.

* spits out own tail *
posted by yhbc at 8:34 PM on August 26, 2004

hrmm, that came off a little snarkier than I meant it.
posted by Mars Saxman at 8:47 PM on August 26, 2004

Yes, the world should be run by a small clique of those who have memorized all grammar "rules," no matter how ill-founded, and the spelling of every word in all major dictionaries, not to mention all set phrases, no matter how arcane, and of course a sprinkling of Latin tags. The hoi polloi can then be ignored or consigned to underground caves, whichever is more convenient.

*rolls eyes*
*awaits earnest know-it-alls who think "the hoi polloi" is not good English, because after all you can't speak good English without knowing Greek*
posted by languagehat at 6:50 AM on August 27, 2004

I love that warm feeling when you get a nice dollop of hoi polloi all down your cohorts.
posted by chicobangs at 7:10 AM on August 27, 2004

I don't see how you get "hand-few" from "handful", but I'm happy to have a category for "takes precedent" and "for all intensive purposes".
posted by jjg at 10:48 AM on August 27, 2004

I've been collecting eggcorns for a while. Here are some of my favorites:

"I was an excelerated student."

"She was pouring over the documents."

"They think they are alone in their descent." (vice "dissent")

"That was a foolhearty thing to do."

"My curiosity was peaked."

languagehat: I have no desire to run the world and I'm not making fun of people who make these sort of mistakes. I think the English language is fascinating, and these mistakes are one facet of the complexity of our language. That is all.
posted by acridrabbit at 10:52 AM on August 27, 2004

languagehat: you're confounding the cause with the effect. It's not that people capable of using language correctly should rule the world; it's that language errors of this sort are more likely to be committed by people who have not spent enough time reading to become familiar with the standard forms. I'm not expecting people to memorize correct spelling and the rules of grammar; I'm expecting them to read, to inform themselves, to become familiar with the language through practice.

Errors like "for all intensive purposes" tell me that the author either didn't care enough about what they were writing to correct their errors or hadn't done enough reading to recognize the correct form of the phrase. Sloppy writing implies sloppy thinking, and ignorant use of written language suggests ignorance of information communicated in writing; in either case, it's a sign that I can safely pay less attention to their opinion than I otherwise might have.
posted by Mars Saxman at 12:51 PM on August 27, 2004

See eminently/imminently scroll down to reviews. And I'm with you, Astro, "greater then" peeves me.
posted by theora55 at 4:13 PM on August 27, 2004

acridrabbit: I wasn't talking to/about you; in fact, I entirely agree with you. I was snarkily addressing Mars's snarky comment. He and I appear to have profound disagreements about the importance of "correct" English and its value as an indicator of worthiness. Fortunately, no one will pay the least attention to either of us.

You know, lots of people aren't blessed with the leisure to acquire these labor-intensive forms of knowledge; they're too busy trying to keep food on the table to worry about grammar/spelling/Greek. But their views don't matter anyway.
posted by languagehat at 5:04 PM on August 27, 2004

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