onomastic reshapings

Arnold Zwicky zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Sun Sep 22 02:21:07 UTC 2002

from The American Horticulturist, October 2002, p. 33, Creighton Lee
Calhoun Jr. on "Tracking the Apples of Yesteryear":

  An apple name, provided by the owner of an old tree,
  is very useful even though it may be garbled.  For example,
  the old southern apple 'Magnum Bonum' is often called
  "Maggie Bowman."

this is a folk-etymological reshaping, to a proper name, which is a
very common variety of reshaping.  are there collections of these?

i think i posted a long time ago about an experience i had when i was
still driving back and forth across the country at least once a year,
and looked in on antique shops in new mexico, arizona, and the
california desert.  where objects labeled as S(c)ha(e)f(f)er Robes -
there were many variant spellings - were on offer.  eventually, when i
came across the variants S(c)hiffer Robe, the penny dropped and i
realized that these things were chifforobes ("chifforobe" =
"chiffonier" + "wardrobe", itself an interesting formation).

in any case, since so very many things are named after people or
places, this sort of reshaping is to be expected.

arnold (zwicky at csli.stanford.edu)

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