An eggcorn is a misheard word – eggcorn itself being a mishearing of the word acorn.
I’ve always enjoyed the misheard lyrics – from Gladly the cross eyed bear in my childhood Sunday School days, to the more adult collection from Peter Kay which you can watch on YouTube.
There’s something just a little bit scarier about eggcorns – at least for someone like me, who is very unlikely to inflict my singing on anyone other than Felix, our resident stray cat.
I’ve worried about making mistakes ever since I was embarrassed at school for my inability to correctly pronounce a certain word. I’m not even happy admitting what it is now, just in case… Of course, it’s always awkward the first time you say aloud a word you’ve only ever read. Like the first time I said awry for instance.
My tutor at Liverpool University, many years ago now, used to tell the story of his own youthful embarrassment.
He went to Oxford, and his tutor at the time was editor of the Dictionary, CT Onions.
(No, this is not the origin of the phrase, “Know your onions.” I looked it up).
He was dining at head table and he said a word out loud which he had previously only read. I wish my memory was good enough to recall what the word was! But he blushed when CT Onions asked him to repeat the word. My tutor apologised for his error, and explained that he’d never heard anyone say the word. Onions shushed him, and made him repeat it. He took a note to include the new pronunciation in the dictionary, and explained that his job was to record usage, not to prescribe it.
Even though I am generally a descriptivist, I would feel uncomfortable if my pronunciation of (guess the word) was recorded to mislead innocents…
In her Guardian column Mariella Frostrup once referred to someone’s cachet of eggs. That’s more of a malapropism than an eggcorn – a wrong word rather than the transcription of a misheard one. To be entirely fair, it could have been a typo, considering the publication.
I recently saw someone claim that Time heals all wombs.
Logical phalluses never seem to be in short supply lately…
Someone argued on Facebook the other day that people are now using their critical factories rather than just regurgitating what they were taught in school. A new form of outsourcing, perhaps.
A basic website costs £10k, or £25k upwards if you want all the Belgian whistles. Alastair found that one on twitter.
Sudo science must always be debunked.
Brexit discussions online have contributed eunuch horns and eunuch horn polishers – thanks to Sam for that contributi
Run a mock still makes me laugh, but I think my personal favourite has to be ad homonym attacks.
Unless you have a better one?