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Ray

The Atlantic on "eggcorns"--in dance writing

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Did anyone see the "Word Count" column in the Sept. Atlantic? The running theme is "eggcorns," defined as "'spontaneous reshapings of known expressions' which seem to make sense" (Eggcorns is an eggcorn for acorns.) In a general sense they are mistakes--"self-phone" for cell phone, and eggcorns usually involve oral articulations of expressions one may have never encountered in print ("free reign" instead of the correct "free rein"; "baited breath" instead of "bated breath," etc.) Sometimes, however, eggcorns find their way into print and the example the Atlantic gives connects--gulp!--to writing about ballet: "Balanchine's classes were famous for honing in on the basics"--the correct phrase is "homing in" (I have to say the magazine caught me unawares on this one :) !). There is a website devoted to them too which you can easily find on google.

Any ballet eggcorns?

Ray

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Thanks, Ray. I hadn't heard of "eggcorns" before. I've seen 'free reign' in more than one review. I don't know if this counts as an eggcorn, but I often see 'won' standing in for 'won over.' (The writer will say, "He won me with this ballet," when he clearly means "He won me over with this ballet.")

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Grandpa (de deux, classique, etc.) ?

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Gargle yard

Surly cou-de-pied

Rhonda jambe (OK, maybe that counts as a drag-queen name)

Efartee (a position somewhere b/t ecarte and efface)

On dead-on

Terror-tear

Port-a-bras

On dairy air

I'll stop now!

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I don't know if this counts as an eggcorn, but I often see 'won' standing in for 'won over.' (The writer will say, "He won me with this ballet," when he clearly means "He won me over with this ballet.")

So many eggcorns seem to based on the speaker changing the idiom of an expression, as in dirac's example. The Atlantic article began with one: a reader noted that "step foot in" often replaces "set foot in." As a teacher, I find teaching correct idiomatic usage sometimes daunting--and also unrewarding: it makes one feel sooooo pedantic to correct "thinking on X" ("thinking of X"). At least with "free rein" one gets to talk about horses (most students I've had don't know what a rein is)!

And we seem to want to trim down idiomatic phrases: a great dancer "impacts" us now, rather than "makes an impact on" us. ("Critique" used as a verb is also technically incorrect: you *mount* a critique.) Whenever I teach students for whom English is not their first language, I'm reminded how tough English idioms can be.

AND then there are those darn regional variations (no, I don't mean Russian and Spanish divertissments!): Do you say waiting *on* line or waiting *in* line?

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Potty dew (actually said on Iowa Public TV - as in "Cinderella and the Prince embark on a tender and romantic potty dew.")

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Potty dew (actually said on Iowa Public TV - as in "Cinderella and the Prince embark on a tender and romantic potty dew.")

This is getting me laughing early! That's close to one of my favorites from the eggcorn website, an eggcorn for "pustule":

"my face is sore and i dont like having big pus jewels on my face."

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And we seem to want to trim down idiomatic phrases: a great dancer "impacts" us now, rather than "makes an impact on" us.

Or better yet, s/he "affects" or "has an effect on" us. (The over-use of "impact" is one of my pet peeves!)

One enjoyable ballet-related eggcorn I heard was from a teacher over-pronouncing a French word: "grand batiment" (large building) instead of "grand battement."

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Do you say waiting *on* line or waiting *in* line?
I have a coworker from Chicago who introduced "I'm waiting on Joe to give me that info" instead of "I'm waiting for Joe to give me that info," which infiltrated the group and made me crazy, until I realized it was a regional difference. To me, "waiting on" until then had been something a waiter does.
Efartee (a position somewhere b/t ecarte and efface)

:blush:

And as a former adult student, who started as an adult, I know exactly what this is: it's that transitional barococo movement between the two positions, when the teacher calls one in an adagio, you start to do the other, and then realize you got it wrong.

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Efartee (a position somewhere b/t ecarte and efface)
And as a former adult student, who started as an adult, I know exactly what this is: it's that transitional barococo movement between the two positions, when the teacher calls one in an adagio, you start to do the other, and then realize you got it wrong.

Well "wrong" is in the eye of the beholder...there's a famous picture of Suzanne Farrell and Martins in the Potty Dew from Diamonds--her leg in perfect effarte devant, back arched over his arm (they are doing a promenade, I think). Don't get me wrong, though: it's one of my favorite pictures! (rules were meant for breaking and all that..).

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"Honing in" is one of my least favorite eggcorns. I used to work with the AIM-9 Sidewinder Air Intercept Missile, and I knew very well that the guidance system "homed" on heat sources. If you lit a cigarette lighter all the way at the other end of the hangar ("hanger" is another eggcorn) from it, the little "eye" would lock right onto it. A ballet eggcorn is pas de chien. That's an attitude that's not in back of the dancer, and looks like a dog, well, I'll leave the rest to your imagination.

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calling the dance/game in the second act of SLEEPING BEAUTY "Blind Man's BLUFF" instead of 'Blind Man's Buff' is all over the place, even in a book as would-be properly edited as scholl's SLEEPING BEAUTY. A LEGEND IN PROGRES - from Yale, no less.

one friend used to swear that ed sullivan once introduced fonteyn and nureyev in the Swan Lake pas de deux as 'mar-go fon-tain and rudolf nur-ee-ev in the Swan Lake deh pew.

then there was arlene croce's recording of the enthusiastic calls from Bejart enthusiasts as: BEIGE ART! BEIGE ART!

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Am I the only one who feels she suddenly has to re-learn English idioms?

Giannina

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have a coworker from Chicago who introduced "I'm waiting on Joe to give me that info" instead of "I'm waiting for Joe to give me that info," which infiltrated the group and made me crazy, until I realized it was a regional difference. To me, "waiting on" until then had been something a waiter does.

Helene, I've heard this variant used regularly here in NJ at work. I had assumed it was "corporate-speak".

I'm no longer working there but we we all always waiting on someone (like Joe) or even something (like a new version).

I worked for AT&T which was a NJ based company up until late last year. Now it's Texas based but the changes will no long impact me (there's ANOTHER one)

Richard

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A ballet eggcorn is pas de chien. That's an attitude that's not in back of the dancer, and looks like a dog, well, I'll leave the rest to your imagination.
:( True! I wondered why it looked so familiar when I check myself in the mirror.

Not sure if this is an eggcorn, but "jool-er-ee" is almost universal nowadays.

Also, I keep typing "egghorn." I can't pronounce the the gg-c combination comfortably, I guess.

I can almost see and hear Sullivan doing his intro. rg, your friend's memory of the two names are quite accurate, I think. But, to be fair to Sullivan, I remember his retaining the "de," which resulted in "paah duh doo."

Bouree Fantasque is frequently referred to as Bouree Fantastique.

Petrouchka comes out Pet-roosh-ka.

Then there's the Shoshtakovich "Bright's Dream" (recently performed by the Bolshoi in London.)

How about Midsummer'S Night Dream.

Or Pictures at an EXPOSITION.

Or Tudor's The Leaves are FALLING.

Or Le Jeune Homme et L'AMOUR..

Or Le BLUE Danube (Massine).

Or L'oiseau de FER.

"Who Cares?" is often pronounced without the up-turn of the "?" -- resulting in a statement about ennui rather than one about insouciance.

And, I've heard the complete, full-evening ballets referred to as "Le Corsaire Pas de Deux" and "Raymonda Variations." Not to mention the time I heard someone refer to Robert Wilson's Einstein on the Beach as Einstein on the Roof.

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i knew an italian fellow studying ballet here who would refer to A MIDNIGHT SUMMER'S DREAM.

a writer once waxed poetic about eglevsky posed artfully looking in a mirror w/ his arms 'au courant'

another described a ballerina's extremely high extension a la seconde - often called six o'clock (or five-to-six) extension, as a 'midnight extension' - picture that if you would...

or a NYTimes review of smuin's THE ETERNAL IDOL in which the reviewer consistently reviewed the work as THE FALLEN IDOL.

or the number of times, and a number of them by dancers, ive read graham's LAMENTATION called LAMENTATIONS.

also, related, a classic line of the famous punster James Waring when being asked what he thought of the Corsaire pas de deux he'd seen the night before, he said: it had rather a coarse air.

a clever cut-up downtown artist once took on child's 'einstein on the beach' calling it 'FINESTEIN ON THE BEACH'

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Thank you for those, bart and rg. I'm going to take note of "Finestein on the Beach."

I hear statements like “We’re still waiting on that,” all the time – it may have been regionally based once, but not any more.

I’m not sure if the use of “impact” as a verb qualifies as an eggcorn. Although I don’t use it that way myself and never shall, the usage seems to have more or less officially arrived and in a generation or two I don’t think anyone will think twice about the matter.

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Every year at holiday time, parents dress up their children and head to the theater for "The Nutcracker Suite," :rolleyes: an error inevitably compounded by the young ones who call it "The Nutcracker Sweet/s".

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Can't believe I didn't think of this sooner; I believe it counts as an eggcorn although presumably the tv show with this phrase as its title considered it a pun: "To the manor born" (it's "to the manner born"). Rampant.

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another described a ballerina's extremely high extension a la seconde - often called six o'clock (or five-to-six) extension, as a 'midnight extension' - picture that if you would...

I'm sure I've seen this ... (at Pilobolus?). She was being carried upside down, feet in fifth position.

You might say that the "midnight" extension is similar to the the famous "six-thirty" extension, except that "midnight" has head just a few inches above the floor and the feet pointing towards the ceiling, whilie the "six-thirty" extension is rather like ... standing on the floor.

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Oh, I'm so guilty of these because I read fast and type fast and speak fast (or carelessly).

Myrta was Martha

Before I learned Russian - it was Dan - ee - lova.

I can never get the French terms right. Thanks to a friend I can now say Développé, instead of removing the accents and saying it American style.

Polyhymnia was pronounced polymenia, rather than Poly-hym-nia.

I also did the Bourree Fantasque one before being corrected this year.

Terpsichore I'm still confused about. I always said it terp-SI-chor-ee (confirmed by the Balanchine documentary), but heard Suzanne Farrell pronounce it TERP-sic-or at her Duets program in D.C. a few years ago.

Part of the problem for me, at least, was for a long time I only said these words in my head. Later, nobody was "rude" enough to correct me. Oh well.

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Can't believe I didn't think of this sooner; I believe it counts as an eggcorn although presumably the tv show with this phrase as its title considered it a pun: "To the manor born" (it's "to the manner born"). Rampant.

And this whole time, I thought it was "to the manor born." :(

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Dale writes:

Part of the problem for me, at least, was for a long time I only said these words in my head. Later, nobody was "rude" enough to correct me. Oh well.

I think that happened to many people, including yours truly. You read the name or the word and automatically work out what sounds like a reasonable pronunciation, not realizing that it’s totally off base. The following doesn't qualify as an eggcorn, but in junior high school I once called the poet Yeats the poet Yeets and was gently corrected by my teacher. Over the years I've found myself on the other side -- do you try to correct the person, tactfully, or let it pass? There are some occasions when you can only do the latter, and I recall at least one where it was a positive pleasure to let that pretentious blowhard make a fool of himself. But I digress.

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Ah, "Yates" -- but not "Kates" -- has confounded many of us. The world of British-Irish pronuncation is vast and was once rather treacherous. As with the rituals of a very exclusive club, you either knew the way things were pronounced or you didn't. This once meant a great deal indeed.

In ballet, the most extreme form was someone I once met in the State Theater lobby who insisted on using the original Georgian version for "Balanchine." It took several of us quite a while to figure out who he (always a he!) was talking about.

Things have changed, and many now respond to these matters with the all-purpose "whatever," which signifiies a "don't know/ don't care" attitude.

P.S. Thanks Hans. Over the years -- and along with the British tv show -- I switched unconsciously from "manner" to "manor," in my head at least, since I've never actually used the phrase. You've helped me to move this back to the right track. (Or is it "tract"?)

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