Tuesday, September 04, 2007

New snow clone? No, old eggcorn

You would visit Polyglot Conspiracy regularly if only to bask in the brilliant glow of that blog name. But sometimes she gets the meat of the bat on a fast ball that you watch the reruns of for a while. So it was with "keyphrasal fun", looking at what searches had led people to her blog. Just played the game tonight, and found this:
great vowel shift in lame mans terms
I didn't even realize what this was until I read it out loud to the missus, and she said "snowclone!" It is … as Drew points out in the comments ... an eggcorn, not a snowclone (or, as my fingers just tried to make it, a snoneclow, which would be a kind of typographical spoonerism or something.)
lay man > lame man
It is, as Ben Z points out, in the eggcorn database, but I didn't find direct hits on Language Log or even by googling (although I'm real busy and only did the most cursory of searches.) Reanalysis of word boundaries with nasals is known in English: a nadder/an adder, an apkin/a napkin, an ewt/a newt are all talked about — not vouching for the histories here, of course. But this is different, I think: You get layman as a compound, and for some speakers the 'lay' part of the compound is probably not too transparent (I suppose I say 'lay public', but it's pretty marginal for me.) So, maybe somebody takes the little step to seeing layman as a really negative term.

PS to the searcher: Post a comment or email me and I'll happily send you refs on non-technical treatments of the Great Vowel Shift. And if you even wonder: I revere exactly this kind of creative use of language, like almost all readers of this blog. It's who we are, it's what we do.

Image from some story about Jesus explaining historical phonology to some layman.


drew said...

Don't you mean Eggcorn?

jangari said...

What's the difference between an eggcorn and a mondogreen? Is mondogreen specific to perception errors due to work boundaries?

Ben Zimmer said...

Drew's right -- it's an eggcorn, and it's in the database.

Ben Zimmer said...

Jangari: A mondegreen is an accidental mishearing, esp. of a song lyric or bit of verse. Not all mondegreens are eggcorns (since eggcorns require a semantic rationale), and not all eggcorns are mondegreens (though some might start off as mishearings of idioms and the like). On the American Dialect Society mailing list I recently suggested the term "mondeggcorn" for the intersection of the two phenomena.

Mr. Verb said...

Thanks, folks. Note to self: Blog not in haste. 30 secs from idea to post is not necessary or even desirable.

So, Ben, with the nasal/word boundary issue, would you figure perception has a role here? Could this count as a mondeggcorn?

Anonymous said...

Hell, I don't care what this is or where it came from ... I'm going to start using this one!

javieth said...

I must to say i love the snow, the cold climate, although i´m not a child anymore i remember my happy childhood and all the beutiful time that i spent with all my friends. Now when is snowing i prefer to spend my time with my boyfriend, most of all that he decided to buy viagra, we enjoy all the time.