October 05, 2006

Eggcorns in the Grauniad

We're happy to report that the term eggcorn — a Language-Loggian coinage to describe orthographic or phonological reshapings that seem to make semantic sense — continues to worm its way into the public consciousness, thanks to some enlightened souls in the media. The latest journalistic report on eggcornology appears in the pages of the Guardian, a paper that knows a thing or two about misshapen orthography. Guardian reader David Kenning alerted the editors to the study of eggcorns in connection with a dispute over plashy fens (an expression appearing in John Milton's History of England) versus splashy fens (an eggcornish version appearing in some editions of Evelyn Waugh's Scoop). That led Guardian reporter Emine Saner to devote a whole article to eggcorns, complete with the Language Log backstory and a healthy sampling of citations culled from Chris Waigl's Eggcorn Database (mostly compiled by Chris, Arnold Zwicky, and myself [*]).

([*] As for this non-reflexive usage of myself, previously covered here, see Nathan Bierma's recent column in the Chicago Tribune.)

Posted by Benjamin Zimmer at October 5, 2006 11:20 AM