Attention Arnold!

Arnold M. Zwicky zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Thu Dec 2 21:30:40 UTC 2004

On Dec 2, 2004, at 11:52 AM, Jesse Sheidlower wrote:

> On Thu, Dec 02, 2004 at 10:04:11AM -0800, Arnold M. Zwicky wrote:
>> On Nov 30, 2004, at 11:34 AM, Alice Faber wrote:
>>> Spotted on usenet:
>>> "the same-oh-same-oh does get really, really boring!"
>> into my files it goes...
>> i'm always a bit trepidatious about posting a new assortment of
>> eggcorns, because new ones then start streaming in.  like, i never
>> catch up!
> You know, when Alice first posted this, I thought, "Why does
> she think it's of interest to Arnold?"
> Now I realize you guys think it's an eggcorn.
> It probably is an eggcorn, if you just saw this on Usenet.
> But--and as we discussed here at some point in a thread I
> now can't find--there's a good chance that "same-oh, same-oh"
> is in fact the _origin_ of "same-old same-old", the former
> first appearing as pidgin in military use in East Asia, the
> latter being a folk-etymology.
> If this is true, and if the Usenet example is a re-coinage,
> then it would be in the unusual position of being a
> folk-etymology that happens to be the real etymology. The
> mind boggles.


there's no reason why these things couldn't cycle around.  i mean, look
at "often".  it had a /t/, then it lost it (by regular phonological
change), then (for lots of people) it got it back (from the

the only real question about same-o-same-o (as a version of
same-old-same-old) is whether the reanalysis is motivated by greater
semantic transparency; this would require some model for X-o X-o that
"makes sense".

on reflection, i suspect that this is unlikely.  instead, it's probably
just a phonological reanalysis, with the casual-speech version /o/ of
/old/ (final t/d deletion, l-vocalization) understood as the lexical
version.  (if same-o-same-o really was the original, then
same-old-same-old was the result of *undoing* these presumed processes.
  a kind of hypercorrection, like "kitching" and "chicking" for
"kitchen" and "chicken", respectively.)


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