double eggcorn

David A. Daniel dad at POKERWIZ.COM
Tue Jun 2 14:24:49 UTC 2009

Hmmm. Before declaring this an eggcorn I checked the eggcorn database to (a)
see if it was there already - it wasn't - and (b) check out a bunch of
eggcorn examples to see if this fit in. I decided, by comparison with
officially recognized eggcorns in the database, that it did fit right in
(you know: walks like an eggcorn, quacks like an eggcorn...). Then I had a
look at the Rules of Eggcorn which state, in part: "The crucial element is
that the new form makes sense: for anyone except lexicographers or other
people trained in etymology..." And it fits here too: the guy didn't say "it
lollypops on the rights", i.e., something totally without meaning. He said
"trammel" which does have the meaning of hindering or restricting or even
hobbling. But then I am hardly an eggcorn expert and perhaps I am missing
some subtlety here, either of meaning or of bailiwick.

We've got a long way to go and a short time to get there

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of
Arnold Zwicky
Sent: Tuesday, June 02, 2009 10:22 AM
Subject: Re: double eggcorn

On Jun 2, 2009, at 5:50 AM, David A. Daniel wrote (on "trammel" for
"trample") ...

this is certainly a malapropism -- of the classical or Fay/Cutler
variety, i can't be sure which -- but why do you say it's an eggcorn?

"eggcorn" is not just a cute synonym for "malapropism".


Here we have what appears to me to be an eggcorn (in first instance) used by
a speaker and then (in second instance) used by a writer who is quoting the
speaker as an example of usage of the word.

In today's "a Word a Day" email the word is "trammel", used here as a verb,
and the following quote is used as a usage example:

"John Singleton, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. spokesman, said [the ban on
cigarette sales at Boston drugstores and on college campuses] does trammel
on businesses' right to sell what they want to sell."
Stephen Smith; Hub Seeks More Bans on Tobacco; The Boston Globe; Sep 4,

He almost certainly meant "trample on". Had Singleton said "trammel
businesses' rights" instead of "trammel ON businesses' rights, one could
even have allowed a slightly stretched meaning of trammel.

So, it seems to me, not only did the speaker fall for a trample/trammel
eggcorn, the word-a-day writer also fell for it, to the extent of even using
it for definition. (PS: The trammel/trample mistake could have been the
reporter's doing, rather than the speaker's, but the result in terms of this
eggcorn example is the same either way.)

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