one good eggcorn deserves another

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sat Dec 11 21:12:22 UTC 2004

Arnold's post on "carrot on a stick" vs. "carrot and (a) stick" adds
one more reanalysis (in whichever direction) of this kind to an
already bulging sheaf of them, many discussed on the list over the
years, including inter alia "hand in/and glove", "puss in/and
boots","in this day in age", "foot in mouth disease", "neck in neck",
"tongue and cheek".   Then of course there are the reanalyses
involving other representatives of the same [X at n] phonology, e.g.
past participial -en ("black and red fish", "spittin'/spit an' image"
< "spitten image" (see my recent Spitten Image paper in Am. Sp.),
present participial -in (tender lovin'/love an' care, smokin'
lightnin', clean shavin'), or non-morphemic -en, as in "Chip 'n'
Dale" chairs < "Chippendale", "beckon call", "kitten caboodle", and
so on.

But this all brings to mind another reanalysis I'd meant to post on
that involves prepositions vs. conjunctions.  As we know, there's
been one well-established reanalysis of "mano a mano" (< Sp. 'hand to
hand') as "man to man" or "man on man/one-on-one".  We know this both
from contexts of use that have nothing to do with hand-to-hand
competition or combat ("Now I ask you, mano a mano,...") and even
more dramatically from the evident adaptation to [+fem] contexts, as
illustrated by these two examples out of many:
Both shows [Prime Time Live and 20/20] had been going mano-a-mano, or
rather womano-a-womano, competing for the same stories and
interviews. (Surely you recall all those colorful Diane
Sawyer-vs.-Barbara Walters tales.)  [Newsday, 1/24/01]
By the time you read this deer season will be over. That means we
don't have to worry about time limits at the range until season opens
again next November.
In October we ran a Master Gunfighter Side Match. I received a lot of
positive feedback on it and will set up another one soon. If you have
not ever participated in a Master Gunfighter match, you are in for a
treat. It's the only time that shooters go head to head, mano a mano
(or womano a womano) on a stage.
["Random Shots" column in Lone Star Gazette, the monthly publication
of the Lone Star Frontier Shooting Club, Jan. 2004]

So "mano a mano" is often understood as "man on man" (or hence
something like "face to face") rather than "hand to hand".   But what
we also increasingly find is that "mano a mano" turns into "mano y
mano"  Thus, for example,

Tiger Woods likes nothing better than the chance to do battle
mano-y-mano down the stretch of a major championship...

Hand-and-hand?  Hand-to-hand?  Man-on-man?  Hard to say.  Many are
like the one below, with the most natural gloss being "man on/to
man", reflecting a double reanalysis (eggcorn in eggcorn?):

You haven't got the balls to tell us who you really are let alone
meet anyone "mano y mano", just like your boss, your nothing but a
corrupt punk.

There are 4880 google hits on "mano y mano", a few from Spanish
preserving the compositional meaning  (e.g. "entre mano y mano"), but
mostly from English with the contexts indicating at least one
reanalysis has taken place, if not two.

And yes, we also find "womano y womano", as in computer/videogames
intended to be played "mano y mano" or "womano y womano".  One of my
favorite cites is the following, which helpfully provides a
Multi-sport races were designed to be Mano y Mano - man against man -
with no distinct advantage. Or for those who have two parts to their
bathing suits - that might be womano y womano. I'll have to check my
Spanish dictionary.

(My advice is don't bother to check the dictionary.)

Larry, wondering if any Spanish speakers on the list can confirm or
disconfirm the possibility of an actual relevant "mano y mano" that
might have served provided another conduit for the English versions.

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