No Ridiculing or Pontificating

Abusing the English language seems to be almost a profession for some, while in the opposite corner, grammarians poke at the abusers. Both are tough gigs in their own right: butchering the language gets you ridicule, and deriding the butchers may result in the dreaded Grammar Nazi label, regardless of your actual level of snark. Can't we all just get along? Of course not, but maybe we can all have some fun without anyone losing an aye in the process.

This, I think, is the spirit of The Eggcorn Database, a collection of lexical errors that arise more from the writer's misunderstanding than a fundamental ignorance of grammar. Are they bloopers, then? Maybe in the sense that a lot of these eggcorns wouldn't be flagged by the spell-check, but they seem more interesting than the everyday spelling mistake. In fact, a lot of them are just plain cute, like something your five-year-old might come up with. And it isn't mere ridicule of, say, the inappropriate substitution of their for there; at this site, you can take another tact and walk down the isle in your water turban.

So is this another collection of common errors, ridiculous bloopers or, worse, finger-wagging at the decline of the English tongue? Well, no. While compilations of the first type can be very useful (and I recommend Paul Brians' site Common Errors in English), ridiculing and pontificating, while an entertaining pastime, has long struck me as childish and, indeed, lacking any intrinsic interest.

The link to Paul Brians' site is appropriate, because it has a lot in common with The Eggcorn Database. I hadn't visited it since an earlier post about common writing errors, but I had some fun there today, too. Fun with an educational component, that is. There's always something I can learn from the professor.


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