Looking for Mormon Eggcorns

12.4.13 | | 15 comments

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?

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15 comments: “Looking for Mormon Eggcorns

  1. Lee Allred

    I know a few but they’re in Thai, which being a monosyllabic-heavy tonal language is very susceptible to what you’re terming Eggcorns — especially by new missionaries struggling with the language.

    “Joseph Smith placed his pig (hands) on Oliver Cowdery’s head.”

    “We’re not Catholic or Protestant. We don’t wear pants (crosses).”

  2. Theric Jepson

    .

    I had a similar problem in Korea, Lee. I’m not sure how many dozens of Books of Mormons include the phone number of Jepson Sex Teacher.

    You would think I’d've gotten more calls…..

  3. Inari

    I had a mission comp tell about her teenage brother asking “Why do we call it F. A. G.? Fag?! That’s a horrible acronym!” And the reply was “it’s F. H. E. Family. Home. Evening.”

    And the word stake does confuse new people when they don’t see it written down. Attending “a steak meeting” is quite the disappointment for many…

  4. Todd

    Inari’s comment reminded me of a friend in college at Southern Utah who was not LDS but dated a girl in high school who was. She invited him to a Stake dance at the Stake House and he skipped Lunch thinking he would be going to get a big steak later the evening. Unfortunately the refreshments were a little lacking.

  5. austin

    I just saw one today in a facebook discussion: a Mormon friend typed “ward lord” instead of “war lord”, and everyone agreed ward lord should become a thing.

  6. Inari

    I thought of some more last night because sleeping is impossible, apparently.

    -We also had an investigator once who was quite concerned about reading “The Book of Mammon” (since the Bible prohibits worshipping such).
    -At the Church offices (where I worked briefly in the payables) we sometimes got invoices for “the Church of LSD” (we dutifully paid their bills too).
    -Then there are the “stripping warriors” in the Book of Mormon (though lets face it, the painting about them kinda encourages this misunderstanding a little…)
    -And my mission mom told me of her granddaughter eagerly listening during family scripture study time, because she was very interested in the idea that “the Juice” should be scattered and later gathered (this becomes the Book of Mormon drinking game: every time you hear the word “Jews/juice” you get some juice).

  7. Mariah

    When I was little I thought getting confirmed was getting cooked in the oven, because of Article of Faith #4: “A laying on of pans”.

  8. Adam K. K. Figueira

    Some little kids, not knowing the words “virtue” or “cherish” sing “Cherries hurt you. Cherries hurt you. God will bless the pure in heart.”

    Also, I don’t know if this counts, but when I saw Disney’s The Little Mermaid as a kid, when King Triton is finally losing it with Ariel just before he destroys her treasure trove, I thought he said, “I consider myself a reasonable Mormon. I set certain rules, and I expect those rules to be obeyed!”

    I grew up in Bountiful, UT. So that made sense to me because nearly everyone was Mormon. I didn’t even know a merman was a thing.

  9. Jonathan Langford

    “Choose the right; let no spirit of discretion overcome you in the evil hour…”

    And of course there’s the infamous “yoo-hoo!” unto Jesus (which led to an edit in the “new” 1984 hymnal…)

  10. Terrance V. Mc Arthur

    The one I remember is the child who saw the ward’s bishop in a supermarket and said to her mother, “There’s Rick!”
    The mother looked and said, “No, that’s Bishop Houghton, not Rick.”
    The child insisted, “Yes it is! It’s the Bishop Rick!”

    [sigh]

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