Saturday, July 15, 2006

Homophones and eggcorns, or something to "peak your interest"

"Eggcorn" is a word someone once used instead of the correct word acorn. Our local newspaper just had the word wreckless when reckless was meant. (There was a wreck in the story, but there was no reckless driving to cause the wreck, apparently. )
An eggcorn is not simply the incorrect homophone being used, but an invented word that sounds similar. In my book they belong together with homophones. And hey, you! That's homoPHONE, not homoPHOBE, which we all know is someone who is afraid of things that are the same as other things. I hope I am not afraid of words that sound the same and are spelled differently. And it's not homEophobe; I'm not scared of my house.

Now, I think I have said before how poor my spelling is. I love the fact that Google prompts you with "Did you mean xxxx?" when you misspell your search for something. Sometimes I just use Google to check my spelling. You get the correct spelling of the word and you also get to see in your results how many goofs like you thought it was spelled the other way. I put in too many heehees and the like and spell checking takes too long so I often skip it when I write. Anyway, checking for spelling mistakes does not catch homophone mix-ups. But mistakes in the newspaper? That drives me to distraction. Besides the wreckless thing, I once read an article about people going about in their bear feet. There was actually a letter to the editor later about that one.

This poem is widely available on the web:
The Pullet Surprise

Eye halve a spelling czech her
It came with my pea sea,
It plainly marquis four my revue
Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.
Eye strike a key and type a word

And weight for it two say,
Weather eye and wring oar write
It shows me strait a weigh.
As soon as a mist ache is maid

It nose bee fore two long,
And eye can put the error rite
Its rare lea ever wrong.
To rite with care is quite a feet

Of witch won should bee proud,
And wee mussed dew the best wee can,
Sew flaw's are knot aloud.
Eye have run this poem threw it

Your sure reel glad two no,
Its letter perfect awl the weigh
My chequer tolled me sew.
-Sauce unknown

On the internet homophone mistakes happen. All. The. Time. Mistakes are becoming so prevalent that they are now known as "newly dominant variants". Never mind me. Go ahead and be your awesome variant self! LOL

On a somewhat related note, here on Montana Public Radio there is a daily feature called Chrysti the Wordsmith. She has a book: Verbivore's Feast. I haven't red it yet. (I know it's read. I'm trying to be variant. You know, taupe dog. Did I pique your interest?)

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