Raising [ken]

Arnold M. Zwicky zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Thu Aug 4 01:22:30 UTC 2005

On Aug 3, 2005, at 12:44 PM, David Bowie wrote:

> Winnowing through old emails, i came across a link to one of Michelle
> Singletary's washingtonpost.com financial chats at
> http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/discussion/2005/06/07/
> DI2005060701163.html?referrer=email
> About a third of the way down, i read:
> ===
> Columbia, MD: After purchasing a car from a "large reputable
> dealer" in
> Northern Virginia, how long should it take for the dealer to produce a
> title so I can register the car in Maryland?
> So far, in my case, it's been over a month!!
> Michelle Singletary: That's too long. Get yourself down to that
> dealership and raise some cane.
> ===
> So Singletary has "raise cane", while i'd always thought it was "raise
> Cain". (Both make sense in terms of providing a usable image, of
> course--one raises both crops and children.)

OED2 has "raise Cain" (and "raise the Devil/the mischief/Ned/hell/
hob") from 1840.  originally U.S.  "raise cane" is the innovation.

> Two questions:
> 1. Which of us, in terms of usage manual English, is right?

you are.

> 2. Whichever of us is wrong, is this an eggcorn? (I *still* haven't
> grasped the nuances of the type.)

i think it's in the "questionable" category, since i don't see how
the semantics is improved with "cane" (or "Cane", or "Kane", as some
people have it -- Foster Kane, is that you?).  but here's someone who
had a rationale that would make it an eggcorn:

Finally, Mr. Spencer - I always thought it was "raise cane" as if to
hit someone with a cane. Thanks for setting me straight. ...


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