Randy Alexander strangeguitars at GMAIL.COM
Fri Jun 14 02:51:11 UTC 2013

On Fri, Jun 14, 2013 at 12:20 AM, Arnold Zwicky <zwicky at stanford.edu> wrote:

> i should have said this right away: "eggcorn" is not just another name for
> "spelling confusion" or "word confusion".  the MWDEU entry on "eminent,
> imminent" treats "eminent" for "imminent" as a word confusion (or possibly
> just a spelling confusion):

Perhaps posting a good definition to check against might help even more.
 Its seems to me that I more often come across descriptions of what an
eggcorn is not than what it is.  Alas, (and sadly) even the ECDB doesn't
come right out on the front page and say what the thing is.

Here are a few definitions:

Chris Waigl on the ECDB About page, quoting AZ:
"spontaneous reshapings of known expressions", and later going on to say"The
crucial element is that the new form makes sense: for anyone except
lexicographers or other people trained in etymology, more sense than the
original form in many cases."

"An idiosyncratic but
semantically<http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/semantically> motivated
substitution of a word or phrase for a word or words that sound identical,
or nearly so, at least in the dialect the speaker uses."

'In linguistics <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linguistics>, an *eggcorn* is
an idiosyncratic <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Idiosyncratic> substitution
of a word or phrase for a word or words that sound similar or identical in
the speaker's dialect (sometimes called
The new phrase introduces a meaning that is different from the original,
but plausible in the same context, such as "old-timers' disease" for
disease <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alzheimer%27s_disease>".'

"a word or phrase that is a seemingly logical alteration of another word or
phrase that sounds similar and has been misheard or misinterpreted,as 'old
wise tale' for 'old wives' tale'."

Randy Alexander
Xiamen, China
Manchu studies: http://www.sinoglot.com/manchu
Language in China (group blog): http://www.sinoglot.com/blog
Music: http://www.metafilter.com/activity/56219/posts/music/

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

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