relish in and plummaging, possible eggcorns?

Arnold Zwicky zwicky at STANFORD.EDU
Sun Apr 12 15:01:33 UTC 2009

On Apr 11, 2009, at 5:09 PM, Mark Mandel wrote:

> On Sat, Apr 11, 2009 at 11:14 AM, Arnold Zwicky
> <zwicky at> wrote:
>> well, there's no reason to think these *are* eggcorns.  there are all
>> sorts of reshapings and non-standard word choices that aren't
>> eggcorns.
>> these are nice examples of malapropisms, probably with contributions
>> from two items in each case.
> I've always understood "malapropism" to refer to a misuse of an
> existing
> word (read now: lexical item) in place of one that bears some
> phonological
> similarity to it. As neologisms, neither "plummaging" nor "relishing
> in"
> fits that definition. Have we an apter term?

there are two phenomena that have been labeled "malapropisms"; both
involve a phonological similarity between the two expressions, but one
is an advertent error (malapropisms in the classic sense, now called
"classical malapropisms", though i often just call them
"malapropisms"), the other an inadvertent error (which Fay & Cutler,
unfortunately, called "malapropisms", though i use the label "Fay/
Cutler malapropisms", or "FC malapropisms" for short).

in a  classical malapropism, someone has stored what is from the point
of view of the larger community the "wrong" phonology (which can be
manifested in spelling as well as pronunciation) for some lexical
item.   FC malapropisms are glitches in retrieval; you get "the wrong
word", one phonologically similar to the one you were aiming for.

classical malapropisms are more of a mixed bag, undoubtedly because
there are several routes to storing the wrong phonology for some
lexical item.  classical malapropisms are most often existing words
(some might have originated in FC malapropisms, in fact) -- the
textbook examples are of this sort -- but they aren't necessarily.
from my booklet Mistakes: "holocaustic stage in language acquisition",
"warms the coggles of my heart".

i was assuming (on the basis of the number of examples) that "relish
in" and "plummaging" were classical malapropisms (of blendish origin),
though they could of course have been inadvertent blends.  or some of


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