Mrs. Malaprop and Madame Eggcorn

I suspect I check my blog stats a tad more compulsively than readership levels warrant.   Excitement turned to stomach-churning embarrassment when a comment from reader alerted me to a misspelling.  I mean, as The Orange Show illustrates:

Grammar police, behold!

Grammar police, behold!

She commented on my turn of phrase mix and mangle.  I meant to say mix and mingle, and it turned out, I did say mix and mingle.

Discussing it later with the commenter, we first addressed our logical concerns that her misreading of my post was caused by a brain tumor, the quinsy, hysteria, or some other suitably horrible histrionic ailment.  We dismissed all but hysteria, I called her Mrs. Malaprop, and we moved on to solving other people’s problems.

Malaprop didn’t sit right with me, however, and I’m so glad it didn’t, because I’ve learned a delightful new word!  On a blog for linguists (be still my heart), one Geoffrey Pullum (find him here) coined the term eggcorn.

A malapropism is the substitution of an incorrect word for a similar-sounding word that results in a nonsensical phrase.  An eggcorn is a substitution that does not change the meaning and in fact perhaps enhances it in some wry fashion.  The example that spawned the word – someone using the phrase egg corn to describe the seed of an oak tree, the acorn.

So, while malaprops might suggest scrambled brains, eggcorns seem to be sent from the golden geese of creativity and imagination.  More eggcorns, please!

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One Response to Mrs. Malaprop and Madame Eggcorn

  1. Shannon says:

    You and your blog are totally two hoots and a hat.

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