Long story shut (was: Eggcorn?)

Damien Hall halldj at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Fri Mar 14 15:07:54 UTC 2008

Certainly looks like an eggcorn to me.

Semantically it's easy to deal with, as Wilson no doubt thought too when posting
it:  if you 'shut' the story, that's like bringing an end to it, closing it, in
other words making it short, with maybe influence from _close the book on
something_ (though for me that idiom is usually with 'close', not 'shut', but
the sense is there).

Phonetically and phonologically, the exact mechanism / route of confusion for
this doesn't spring immediately to my mind (that's why I'm bothering posting
about it).    R-less speech may well be the trigger, of course, as Scot said,
but after that it gets murky.  I'm r-less myself (of course), but British, and
so my vowel in _short_ isn't the CUP-vowel (and isn't schwa either) but rather
/O:/ (long open-o).

So, among the people here who have the facts of American dialectology more at
their fingertips than I do, are there American dialects (presumably r-less)
where the vowel of SHORT is close enough to the CUP-vowel or schwa that this
transition could be made?  I know there are dialects where the CUP-vowel _is_
schwa, but is either schwa or /^/ close enough to the (presumably backer) vowel
of SHORT to account for the transition?

Damien, wanting this to be an eggcorn because it's so classic in the semantic
motivation, but not knowing exactly how it's done phonologically

University of Pennsylvania

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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