Language Fun: The Eggcorn Database

Eggcorn is a linguistic term coined by Dr. Geoffrey Pullum (a linguist who is often featured on the Language Log and the Chronicle of Higher Education).  It refers to an idiosyncratic, pun-like back-formation of a word, such as “eggcorn” for “acorn” or “old timers” for “alzheimer’s.”  If you’re interested in more of these, including the famous “Lady Mondegreen” example, you’ll be happy to know that, since 2004, linguists have been maintaining the Eggcorn Database.  It should make for hours of fun while providing an interesting set of examples for discussion when teaching phonetics.



About LingEducator

Dr. Jaclyn Ocumpaugh received a PhD for her dissertation on regional variation in the acoustics of Mexican American English (Michigan State University, East Lansing). Before that, she received an MA in English/Linguistics from North Carolina State University for her work on the acoustics of /r/--a sound which is highly variable in the English language. Her passion, however, has always been to understand the social implications of language variation. In addition to her work in acoustic sociophonetics, she has worked with rape trial analysis, developed cognitive methods for understanding discourse level variation between men and women, and created sophisticated tools for teaching future educators about the kinds of dialect variation they will find in the classroom. She has taught classes in English, Linguistics, and Education at Old Dominion University, William & Mary, the University of Mary Washington, and Virginia Wesleyan College. She is currently a Post Doctoral Fellow of Learning Sciences and Technologies at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, where she is helping to develop models of student engagement in the classroom. She also consults in the private sector.
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