Long story shut (was: Eggcorn?)

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Fri Mar 14 15:46:53 UTC 2008

Damien Hall writes:

"Semantically it's easy to deal with, as Wilson no doubt thought too
when posting
it ..."

Thank you for the diplomacy of your comment, Damien, But, if the truth
be told, I Bugs-Bunnied it. That is, I simply thought, "What a
maroon!" ;-) [For those for whom the point is less than clear, this is
an expression of contempt used by the cartoon character, Bugs Bunny.
Presumably, what Bugs is aiming for is, "What a moron!"] But,
seriously, folks, perhaps the derivation is influenced somehow by
"open-and-shut case."


On 3/14/08, Damien Hall <halldj at babel.ling.upenn.edu> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
>  Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>  Poster:       Damien Hall <halldj at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU>
>  Subject:      Long story shut (was: Eggcorn?)
>  -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>  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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