Fwd: Eggcorn perfection: "Carrot on a stick"/"Carrot and stick"

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Sat Dec 11 20:06:58 UTC 2004

OK, when I was a comic-reading tot there was a story involving Scrooge McDuck and Huey, Dewey, and Louie, at one point of which (oops, that shd b "inwhich," yes?) said heroic ducks were attempting to get a recalcitrant burro to move so they could get out of the desert or something.

I clearly remember one full-color panel in which (oops...), to get the burro moving, one of the young ducks climbed in its back, and dangled in front of its nose a carrot attached by a string to a stick.  Since then, the phrase "carrot and stick" has always reminded me of this
image, illustrated by the late, great Disney artist Carl Barks.

Perhaps others were similarly influenced, either by this panel or by some folklore that inspired it.  Hence, "carrot on a stick."

"Arnold M. Zwicky" <zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU> wrote:
---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
Sender: American Dialect Society
Poster: "Arnold M. Zwicky"
Subject: Fwd: Eggcorn perfection: "Carrot on a stick"/"Carrot and stick"

in my mail... (my comments follow the forwarded letter.)

Begin forwarded message:

> From: "Jan Freeman"
> Date: December 7, 2004 9:31:44 AM PST
> To:
> Subject: Eggcorn perfection: "Carrot on a stick"/"Carrot and stick"
> Dear Arnold Zwicky,
> I'm sure your hoard of eggcorns is more than adequate to see you
> through the winter, but I have to propose the "carrot and stick"/
> "carrot on a stick" pair as a near-perfect example. Both versions are
> supported, by implication, in the OED's cites, and partisans of both
> versions claim to have known them forever. When I wrote about the
> debate in my Boston Globe column, one group of readers "recalled"
> movies and cartoons showing a donkey (or dog or cat) with a stick tied
> to its neck, holding the reward out of reach. The others (like me) had
> always understood "carrot and stick" to mean reward and punishment,
> offered and threatened simultaneously. At this point, discovering the
> true origin would probably be beside the point, but I'm still curious;
> next time you're dragged back into the eggcorn field, perhaps you
> could pose the question to your peers. Best, Jan Freeman
> freeman at globe.com
> jlfreeman at rcn.com
> The Word: www.boston.com/news/globe/ideas/freeman

i checked the obvious (and easy-to-access) places: the ADS-L archives,
the Language Log archives (now chock-full, chocked-full, chuck-full,
jock-full, shock-full, etc. of eggcorns), Paul Brians's Common Errors
in English site, MWDEU, Word Spy, World Wide Words, and Word Detective.
nothing in any of these except the last, in which evan morris reports
much the same lack of resolution that jan freeman describes above.
anybody have further data or insights? (please, please, don't just
argue that one of these sources seems more plausible to you than the
other, or report your lifelong usage. campaigning and voting will get
us nowhere.)

arnold (zwicky at csli.stanford.edu)

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