Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Fri Mar 14 17:44:25 UTC 2008

At 12:02 PM -0400 3/14/08, Damien Hall wrote:
>I think _foliage_ > _foilage_ is an eggcorn, though it's difficult to pin down
>the exact reasons why.  It's actually a mistake I used to make as a child.  (I
>was a precocious child, to be aware of the word at all, as opposed to just
>saying _leaves_;  sorry about that.)
>Semantically, for someone who speaks only English (which describes me at that
>time), you could explain it by the similarity of leaves to foil, in that both
>are thin, flat and rustly.  For someone who has at some point learnt at least
>some French, which probably describes most British adults at least, there's
>also a possible link with _feuille_ 'leaf', which does at least contain an
>upgliding diphthong beginning with a rounded element, like the one in _foil_.

FWIW, you can add that the two are in fact doublets, with the same
etymology, < Lat. _folia_ via OFr. _foille_.


>Phonologically / phonetically, the link could be as simple as a spelling
>transposition aided by the extant word _foil_, if that counts.  If the mistake
>is made by someone who vocalises /l/ in that environment (cf
>_William_ [wi:j at m]
>etc), you can get to something that's kind of close to _foilage_:
>[fowliIJ] > [fowjiIJ] or something
>but then the /l/ would have to be hypercorrectly reintroduced in the
>wrong place
>in the word, by attraction from _foil_, maybe?
>But you can tell I am running into difficulties here:  I have the feeling that
>I'm reaching.  I'd be glad to be knocked down by others!

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