linguistic notes on the ‘one’ in ‘alone’ and ‘only’

Why is the element one in words such as alone and only not pronounced like the numeral one? Both the indefinite article an (a before consonant) and the numeral one are from Old English ān—which has survived in Scotland as ane, used both as indefinite article and as numeral. This Old-English word ān meant a/an, one, […]

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“wedding vowels”, “tongue and cheek” and other eggcorns

‘eggcorn’: alteration of a word or phrase through the mishearing or reinterpretation of one or more of its elements as a similar-sounding word—coined in 2003 on the website Language Log with reference to a misinterpretation of ‘acorn’ as ‘eggcorn’

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the forgotten origin of ‘cock-a-hoop’

from the 16th-century phrase ‘to set cock a hoop’, ‘to set (the) cock on (the) hoop’, apparently meaning ‘to put the cock (= spigot) on a barrel hoop and let the liquor flow prior to a drinking bout’—‘cock’ later equated with the fowl and ‘hoop’ with French ‘huppe’ (tufted crest)

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‘au reservoir’ (‘goodbye until we meet again’)

A humorous alteration of ‘au revoir’ after the noun ‘reservoir’, the exclamation ‘au reservoir’ is first recorded in Little Pedlington and the Pedlingtonians (London, 1839), by the English author John Poole (1786-1872).

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