The family thought it a little perverse, yes, but I had a vision; I was getting ready to build the cover of Far from the Madding Gerund, the collection of Language Log posts we were preparing for publication.
An acorn? For that? True, Geoff Pullum had imagined a large office building labeled with "Language Log," as if the blog itself had a physical location, with professional linguists in their offices all day long cranking out blog posts, running down the hallway to the copy room, ordering take-out together for a lunchtime meeting. A very romantic take on things, not unlike the announcement you hear on Car Talk when they give the address as "Car Talk Plaza." I messed around with it a little, like this:
described on Language Log this way:
Chris Potts has told me about a case in which a woman wrote "egg corns" for "acorns." This might be taken to be a folk etymology, like "Jerusalem" for "girasole" in "Jerusalem artichoke" (a kind of sunflower). But it might also be treated as something like a mondegreen (also here and here), the kind of "slip of the ear" that is especially common in learning songs and poems. Finally, it's also something like a malapropism, where a word is mistakenly substituted for one of similar sound shape.
Although the example is somewhat like each of these three named categories of errors, it's not exactly any of them. Can anyone suggest a better term?To which Language Log contributor Geoff Pullum responded that this kind of error should be called an "eggcorn," and thus "eggcorn" became common coin over at Language Log, where it has since been well understood by readers of the site. Too many posts have been written discussing eggcorns to link to, and a spin-off site, The Eggcorn Database, was launched in 2005. (Geoff, by the way, always told me the image on the cover has to be called an eggcorn, not an acorn, which sort of makes my head spin if I think that over too much.)
All these years later, Ben Zimmer tells us that, after the OED family of dictionaries added "eggcorn" last year, the American Heritage Dictionary now has "eggcorn" among its newly added terms of 2011. I like to think that this means my cover is now a word. That said, this is the final version of that cover—an acorn floating on the clouds with the smiling word "Gerund" telling you this is not all dead serious grammar talk inside, plus a joyous blurb by the great Jan Freeman resting like a crown atop the whole thing ("exuberant, tart, and totally addictive"). It may be my all-time favorite cover I've designed:
Here and Now.