eggcorn candidate: "center meters"

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Fri Dec 18 04:48:56 UTC 2009

At 10:18 PM -0500 12/17/09, Herb Stahlke wrote:
>I'm not sure, but I suspect that even in BrE there would be stresses
>on the first syllables of "center" and "meter."

Are there any such speakers who could chime in on whether "6 center
meters" and "6 centimeters" would be distinguished in normal speech,
and if so how?

>But aside from that,
>"center meter" meets one criterion for eggcornity, that a part of a
>word that isn't immediately transparent is replace by something that
>is, but it doesn't meet the condition that the eggcornage should make
>some relevant sense.

Well, it marginally makes more sense than "centimeters" if you don't
know the Latin prefix...


>  >
>>  As in this exchange on WikiAnswers:
>>  Q: How many center meters is 3 foot?
>>  A:  1 foot = 30.48cm
>>        30.48 X 3 = 91.44cm
>>  Other questions from the first page of the about 11,500 g-hits for
>>  "center meters":
>>  How Many Center Meters R There In An Inch?
>>  How Big is the Equator in Center Meters?
>>  Another 52,500 hits for the singular "center meter", as in
>>  "center meter to inch" conversion tables, "How many millimeters equal
>>  one center meter", and so on.
>>  True, many of these hits are irrelevant ("Government Center Meters",
>>  "Bryan Center Meter Lot",...), but many seem to be clear instances of
>>  eggcornish reanalyses, facilitated by the fact that centimeters are
>>  more likely to be used in the largely non-rhotic U.K., where
>>  "centimeter" and "center meter" are pretty much homophones.
>>  LH
>>  ------------------------------------------------------------
>>  The American Dialect Society -
>The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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