Fwd: Eggcorn perfection: "Carrot on a stick"/"Carrot and stick"

Arnold M. Zwicky zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Sat Dec 11 19:48:00 UTC 2004

in my mail...  (my comments follow the forwarded letter.)

Begin forwarded message:

> From: "Jan Freeman" <jlfreeman at rcn.com>
> Date: December 7, 2004 9:31:44 AM PST
> To: <zwicky at csli.stanford.edu>
> Subject: Eggcorn perfection: "Carrot on a stick"/"Carrot and stick"
> Dear Arnold Zwicky,
> I'm sure your hoard of eggcorns is more than adequate to see you
> through the winter, but I have to propose the "carrot and stick"/
> "carrot on a stick" pair as a near-perfect example. Both versions are
> supported, by implication, in the OED's cites, and partisans of both
> versions claim to have known them forever. When I wrote about the
> debate in my Boston Globe column, one group of readers "recalled"
> movies and cartoons showing a donkey (or dog or cat) with a stick tied
> to its neck, holding the reward out of reach. The others (like me) had
> always understood "carrot and stick" to mean reward and punishment,
> offered and threatened simultaneously.  At this point, discovering the
> true origin would probably be beside the point, but I'm still curious;
> next time you're dragged back into the eggcorn field, perhaps you
> could pose the question to your peers.  Best, Jan Freeman
> freeman at globe.com
> jlfreeman at rcn.com
> The Word: www.boston.com/news/globe/ideas/freeman

i checked the obvious (and easy-to-access) places: the ADS-L archives,
the Language Log archives (now chock-full, chocked-full, chuck-full,
jock-full, shock-full, etc. of eggcorns), Paul Brians's Common Errors
in English site, MWDEU, Word Spy, World Wide Words, and Word Detective.
  nothing in any of these except the last, in which evan morris reports
much the same lack of resolution that jan freeman describes above.
anybody have further data or insights?  (please, please, don't just
argue that one of these sources seems more plausible to you than the
other, or report your lifelong usage.  campaigning and voting will get
us nowhere.)

arnold (zwicky at csli.stanford.edu)

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