Eggcorn: carousel >> carousal

Damien Hall djh514 at YORK.AC.UK
Tue Sep 15 10:38:09 UTC 2009

On another list this week, the following was posted:


I've got a number of MP3 audio files I'd like to listen to without
having to click them on one by one.

Is there any kind of a music carousal built into XP?


>From the context, and as was also made clear by further messages in the
thread, the sender meant 'carousel'. A classic eggcorn, it seems to me:

- Phonologically / graphically, the similarities are obvious, though the
different stress-patterns of the two words do make it slightly unusual:
most eggcorn-pairs share the same stress pattern, and yet I'm not aware
that anyone pronounces these two words other than as _carousal_ with medial
stress and _carousel_ with either initial or final stress, but not medial.
This entails a difference in the middle vowel of the words.

- Semantically, the poster was searching for something that would make his
musical tracks follow one another round (play in a loop), ie a _carousel_
(cf OED sense 3) but (either not quite knowing the word or not getting
there as he reached for it) he ended up with a similar-sounding word that
is more obviously to do with music, _carousal_. Checking the OED for these
senses, I see that this confusion is, or was, frequent in writers on
historical subjects, as shown by the citations.


Damien Hall

University of York
Department of Language and Linguistic Science
YO10 5DD

Tel. (office) +44 (0)1904 432665
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