gutteral 'of the gutter'

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Sat May 17 19:34:06 UTC 2008

On Sat, May 17, 2008 at 11:27 AM, Arnold M. Zwicky
<zwicky at> wrote:
> Ben Zimmer posted an example of this usage on 4/14/05, from Rush
> Limbaugh (spelled "guttural" in the transcript).  now this morning on
> NPR's Morning Edition Saturday, an occurrence of "downright
> gutteral" (in the relevant sense) from Harold Ford, chairman of the
> Democratic Leadership Council.
> googling on "downright gutteral" will get you a few more relevant
> examples.
> it's a sort of eggcorn-plus: not only is the expression reanalyzed so
> as to have more recognizable parts, but its meaning is then adjusted
> to reflect this analysis: guttural speech is gutter speech (rough and
> harsh), and "gutteral" can then be used of gutter speech in other
> senses (taboo language, venomous speech) and gutter behavior of other
> sorts (dirty politics). a complex development.

For more on the gut/gutter reanalysis of "guttural" see my 11//06/05
Language Log post, "Guttural politics":

--Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society -

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