Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Tue Oct 18 18:23:33 UTC 2005

At 1:33 PM -0400 10/18/05, Mark A. Mandel wrote:
>Wilson writ:
>"Microsoft's position ... cast _dispersions_ on the fairness and
>objectivity of a  ... state government's process."
>Easy mis-hearing.
>m a m

Indeed; cf. along the same lines the three different meanings that
can be assigned to the various google and Nexis hits for the non-word
"disgression", each of them deriving from a distinct eggcorn (<
'digression', 'discretion', 'indiscretion').  What makes the
reanalysis especially tempting in the "cast dispersions" case is the
way the phonology and semantics are conspiring in this context:
"cast dispersions" and "cast aspersions" are almost phono-twins,
while "aspersions" and "dispersions" in isolation are quite distinct.
Plus, of course, "aspersions" is basically restricted to appearing as
the object of "cast", so "aspersions" doesn't really have its own
lexical feet to stand on for many speakers (especially those rare
speakers unfamiliar with the classic idiom-chunk arguments for
transformational grammar based on sentences like "Aspersions were
expected by John to have been believed by Mary to have been cast at


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