Sunday, April 01, 2007

Too good to pass up ... "wanton to do"

I thought it had to be a speech error, but the announcer on the NHL game of the week (Red Wings vs. Blue Jackets, currently 0-0, but Columbus is peppering the goalie, good hustle), just said "as they are wanton to do". I'm stunned to see that it gets 138,000 g-hits, but no metacommentary. A kind of interesting eggcorn (go to Language Log or the Eggcorn Database for details; neither has this example that I see.) Wont has always struck me as something that might be apt to confusion with want for those speakers who pronounce them the same (in contrast to those who say want like won't), save for the syntax: *to be want. Wanton fits the syntax for confusion. Maybe it's supported by a sense of hypercorrection, i.e. that to be wont is missing a final syllable? The way of the wanton must be toward eggcorning.

But on a cold, rainy day, it's just good to see Chris Chelios still out there on the ice at 45 years of age, that's just unfreakinbelievable. (And, yeah, he played for Wisconsin in the early 1980s.)

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Any chance this could be parallel to / confused with "to be wantin' to do". That would get you the final syllable, wouldn't it?

The Ridger, FCD said...

Alternatively, it could be taken as a passive with an odd or frozen form.

It's strange, though.

Mr. Verb said...

That would be slick, wouldn't it? If I get a minute, I might check around to see if there are old forms like this out there.

Ben Zimmer said...

Well, there are archaic past participles like spitten, the basis for the expression spitting image.

Mr. Verb said...

Right, I think that's the kind of thing the Ridger was thinking about.

The Ridger, FCD said...

I was thinking that "wanton" was being confused with a past passive participle (that's what we call it in Slavic) - I should have said with an -N form used passively. Not that "want" has an -N form in -en (let alone -on), of course - hence the "confused with".

Mr. Verb said...

May have blown the number of attestations of 'wanton to do'. See here http://mr-verb.blogspot.com/2007/04/unwanted-correction-on-wanton.html.

The Ridger, FCD said...

Hey - check Jan Freeman's column today - you're in it! This post! wanton eggcorns!

Mr. Verb said...

Now THAT is the way to start my Sunday morning off! And it's a fine piece too ... the world needs to understand eggcorns.