"mixmash" eggcorn?

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Mon Jan 26 19:28:21 UTC 2009

On Mon, Jan 26, 2009 at 1:40 PM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu> wrote:
> Mightn't there be an influence from Yiddish somewhere?  I've usually
> heard the word as the Yinglish "mishmosh" (with an /a/ vowel in the
> second syllable, not /ae/), and I'd have taken "mixmash" to be a
> blend of "mishmosh" with "mix" and "mash(-up)", the last of which
> I've learned from my kids.

The OED entry for _mishmash_ suggests an influence from German
_Mischmasch_/Yiddish _mishmosh_ in spelling variants like _mischmasch_,
_mishmosh_, and _mishmush_, as well as the U.S. pronunciation variant /mISmAS/
(rather than /mISm&S/). So it could be another factor in the mix for _mixmash_.

Influence from the Yinglish pronunciation might also reveal itself in the
spelling _mixmosh_ -- though in that case we wouldn't want to discount
influence from the slam-dancing sense of _mosh_, surely of more salience in
contemporary musical contexts. Exx:

“It was a mixmosh of people — it wasn’t just black and white — and everybody’s
got their cultures. Everybody’s got their music and their religion, and you
just throw that into the pot and stir it up,” Salgado continues. “That’s why
the blues is what it is: because America was a hybrid melting pot of all these
A mixmosh of various types of audio created using recording programs.

I'll have to add _mixmosh_ to the ECDB entry.

--Ben Zimmer

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

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