One of my favorite language sites is the “Eggcorn database,” a compilation of a certain kind of spelling error in which a word or phrase is transformed into another that sounds the same, but has a different meaning. The name “eggcorn” comes from a misspelling of “acorn,” but the misspelling is logical semantically — an acorn vaguely resembles an egg, and is a seed like corn, so it could well be called an “eggcorn.”
Perhaps the best of these linguistic amusements show up in idiomatic phrases whose meanings are stunningly transformed by mistaken hearing:
- in the fetal position becomes in the feeble position
- Alzheimer’s disease becomes old-timers’ disease
- a moot point becomes either a mute point or a mood point
- and survival of the fittest becomes survival of the fetus
Unlike malapropisms, which result in nonsense, eggcorns result in words or phrases that are different from the original, but plausible in the same context. The site lists hundreds of these errors, and, like those above, they can be very amusing.
The other day when I was looking at the site, it occurred to me that Mormon eggcorns must also exist. We have a vocabulary all our own, including phrases that are unique or nearly unique to Mormon culture, so Mormon eggcorns probably do exist.
I have run into one Mormon eggcorn in a joke I once heard:
As a pair of missionaries left the home of an elderly couple in the Southern U.S., they overheard the man say to his wife, “Ain’t that a hoot? Both them boys named Elmer.”
But, I can’t remember running into any others. Have you?