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Etymologies

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Examples

  • On Language column in this Sunday's New York Times Magazine, exploring the tricky terrain of corporate etymology - or rather, etymythology.

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  • For more on the realm of etymythology, I recommend two books: Dave Wilton's

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  • In a 2004 article in American Speech, Horn defined etymythology as "the lexical version of the urban legend, a fable - or more generously a piece of culturally based arcane wisdom - not transmitted by scholarly research but passed on by word of mouth (or computer)."

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  • Let's not forget the hideous atrocities promulgated, for example, at this site:

    Even a fool can set up a webpage

    Unlike the 'cran' in 'cranberry', 'goose' is apparently not a cranberry morpheme, a term whose defining characteristic still eludes me to some extent.

    January 3, 2009

  • An urban myth about etymology. The most common kind is probably the fanciful derivation of a word from initials—Port Over Starboard Home is the most famous, with variations on Fornication and/or Carnal Knowledge a popular second. It also applies to the fanciful story that a king knighted sirloin, the imagined connexion between Beltane and a Near Eastern god Baal, and probably to the attempt to derive Elephant and Castle from a supposed Infanta of Castile. The term was coined by the linguist Larry Horn.

    To be distinguished from folk etymology, or is perhaps a kind of folk etymology. Most folk etymologies turn incomprehensible elements into familiar words, e.g. sparrowgrass from asparagus, bridegroom from bridegome, possibly gooseberry from some other (now uncertain) first element.

    July 25, 2008