a (new?) back form and a weird reanalysis

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Tue Oct 2 00:08:05 UTC 2012

(1) From an interview with Giants' quarterback Eli Manning, taking the blame for a play at the end of the game on which his young receiver Ramses Barden was forced to commit offensive pass interference to prevent a likely interception, leading to a penalty that cost the team a chance to win the game:  "I threw it badly. He *had* to pass-interfere."  OK, quick Google search suggests it's not new, but no doubt created ad hoc as needed.

(2) From a letter to the Times' "Metropolitan Diary", someone writes about being told he needed a "stahduh" for his florescent light; piece included in its entirety for its ADS relevance, however misguided on the "succumb"ing of regional dialects:


When Stahdahs Were Stahdahs


Dear Diary:

I had just come to New York in the late 1960s and rented a roach-infested apartment for $75 a month on East 25th Street.

The fluorescent light in the bathroom refused to come on even after putting in a new bulb. I saw a miniature tin-can-shaped thingy that, with a twist, came out easily. I took it to my favorite and helpful hardware store on Third Avenue, Schneider’s Hardware, run by Mrs. Schneider. She was an encyclopedia of helpful information for a new arrival in the city.

I told her the problem and asked her what the small, tin-colored cylinder in my hand was called. She said, “Those are stahdahs.”

“O.K., give me a stahdah,” I repeated back. She said O.K. and rang it up. I paid and left.

As I was walking back to my apartment, I dissembled the curious word stahdahs. Stahdahs, stahdahs … starters? Starter? It’s a starter!

About the same time I heard a cabdriver say, “Toity-toid and Toid.” Those accents have succumbed to the accentless voices on radio and television. Some of the nuance and color of New York is gone.

But what I'm looking at here is the use of "dissemble" for "disassemble".  Googling "I dissembled" (on the assumption that people wouldn't usually be admitting actually dissembling, thereby resulting in a higher proportion of "new" dissembling for the first person cases, I did indeed find a healthy number of cases of the form "I dissembled X", where X = some gear or other: smartphone, GPU, vacuum cleaner, sump pump, gun, makerbot, etc.  Lots of dissembling going on, and that's the honest truth!  (Not technically an eggcorn, though, as I understand it.)


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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