Those of you who follow us on Twitter may have seen some recent tweets about the linguistic entity known as the eggcorn.
According to wikipedia, an eggcorn is an ‘idiosyncratic substitution of a word or phrase for a word or words that sound similar or identical in the speaker’s dialect’. The term was first coined by Geoffrey Pullum over at Language Log.
Despite the usual level of schadenfreude on this blog, I’m not going to get all snotty and patronising about eggcorns. I really like them. Apart from the fact that I think they are often charming in their naivety (OK, that was a bit patronising), the best examples are just as valid as the phrase for which they are a substitute. The eggcorn is similar to the more nonsensical malapropism, of which I am also a big fan.
Let me give you some examples courtesy of GB’s very own Paddy and our good friend Matt.
The other pub is only a hare’s breath away.
Of course, the widely accepted phrase is ‘a hair’s breadth’ but Matt’s version has a certain poetry about it, don’t you think?
Paddy then offered the following eggcorn in place of the phrase ‘common or garden’ to mean ‘everyday’ or ‘usual’ when referring to a noun.
It’s not your communal garden beer.
Here is a short clip.
Adam and Joe – eggcorns.mp3 – Download MP3
So now, in homage to* Adam and Joe I’d like all GrammarBlog readers to keep their eyes and ears open for eggcorns and send them into us. All contributions are most welcome and when we have a sufficient number I will compile a list of my favourite examples. You can submit your suggestions by commenting on this post, by email, or by sending us a reply on twitter.
We look forward to hearing from you.