interstate highway to Cupertino?

Geoff Nathan geoffnathan at WAYNE.EDU
Tue Jul 21 19:49:35 UTC 2009

Only marginally relevant, but, for those who actually know the rarer word, do you have the same stress pattern for the two?  I don't.
For me the words are [ínterstà te] vs [intéstà te] where the legal term has primary stress on the middle syllable, leading to an aspirated /t/ before it, while the highway sense has a trochee in which the /nt/ is a nasalized flap, merging with /n/ as if it were 'innerstate' (like 'inner tube').  So this would have to be a typing/spelling confusion, surely.


Geoffrey S. Nathan
Faculty Liaison, C&IT
and Associate Professor, Linguistics Program
+1 (313) 577-1259 (C&IT)
+1 (313) 577-8621 (English/Linguistics)

----- "Laurence Horn" <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU> wrote:

> From: "Laurence Horn" <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
> Sent: Tuesday, July 21, 2009 3:32:45 PM GMT -05:00 US/Canada Eastern
> Subject: Re: interstate highway to Cupertino?
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: interstate highway to Cupertino?
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> At 3:19 PM -0400 7/21/09, Victor wrote:
> >Would this make a case for "intestate" as a mere typo (as in
> "spelling
> >error because of a missed key stroke"):
> >
> >>>Wife and I have been on the _interstate_ on our wing since we got
> it
> >(only had it 3 months) but ride the _intestate_ only when other type
> >roads aren't convienent. [sic]
> >
> >
> >There is an additional ironic twist in two of the 6 hits for
> "intestate
> >roads":
> >
> >>>_Intestate roads_ in Texas. State-by-state data on the number of
> >traffic fatalities occurring on rural, _non-Interstate routes_ from
> 1999
> >to 2003 ...
> >
> >
> >>>Despite the wealth of knowledge available about safe highway
> design,
> >many new _Intestate roads_ have built-in death traps.
> >
> >
> >Note that the first of these also has the interstate/intestate pair,
> >just like the example above.
> Agreed that these are simple typos.
> >
> >And here's a reverse situation, apparently from a phishing email:
> >
> >>>I am currently reading a "letter" that has been written by a
> >Malaysian person apparently and in which an "unexpected inheritance"
> is
> >announced.
> >
> >I am not taking this letter seriously but would be curious to
> understand
> >it fully. I came accross this sentence and wondered what
> "interstate"
> >means here :
> >
> >I can confirm with certainty that the said investor dies interstate
> and
> >no next of kin to his estate has been found or has come forward all
> >these years.
> I would imagine that garden-variety "intestate" > "interstate"
> revisions would be caused by lack of familiarity with the former term
> (despite its long history--as Arnold points out, it's now a lot less
> frequent and more register-restricted than "interstate") and would I
> suspect constitute an eggcorn.  The reason I invoked Cupertino in the
> example of a shift in the other direction is precisely because nobody
> would really think "intestate" ('without a will') had been intended
> in that passage, so if it wasn't a mere typo it might have resulted
> from an editorial spell-check at the Times, perhaps precisely one
> that flagged lower-case "interstate" and required the copy-editor to
> choose between "Interstate" and "intestate", which he or she
> proceeded to do while thinking of something else.
> LH
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