Grammar is of no value per say. For all intensive purposes, it’s about conveying meaning with clarity. And one of the tenants of good writing is understanding what words actually mean, right? I have a deep-seeded dislike of people who don’t edit their writing with do diligence, not to mention those who segway from one random thought to another. But in this day and age of tweets and ROFLMAOs, it’s a bit of a mute point, so I may have to backpeddle on my argument. Have I peaked your interest yet?
The above paragraph is chalk-full (sorry, couldn’t resist) of a type of malapropism called an eggcorn – a moniker that makes me happy, given my soft spot for eggs. To give you a semi-official definition, an eggcorn is a substitution of a word or phrase for one that sounds similar, resulting in a locution with a slightly different but marginally plausible meaning. In case you’re unfamiliar with the life cycle of an oak tree, allow me to point out that the word “eggcorn” is itself an eggcorn.
The folks most inclined to use such gems, I’ve noticed, are those who spend a lot of time listening to talking heads on screens and very little time looking at squiggly lines on printed pages (a formerly popular pursuit known as reading). In other words, they acquire their store of word knowledge by sound rather than sight, so they end up misinterpreting what they hear – and then misspelling it.
All the eggcorns in the first paragraph are coinages I encounter routinely in emails, tweets, Facebook updates, newspapers, magazines, and books by top publishing houses. Not that I go in for ad homonym (sorry again) arguments, but I have to wonder where editors get their training these days. From people far wiser than the likes of me, you may say, though I’m pretty sure the font of wisdom is Calibri, not Arial.
We really ought to nip these eggcorns in the butt.