All posts by Laura

Just another eggcorn?

Or are these distinct terms?

I just finished an online word puzzle (it turns out that even though I’m done with exams, there’s a lot of other stuff out there that invites procrastination…) and one of the clues was ‘hawk’.  I managed to figure out that the answer was ‘sell’, but I thought to myself ‘hmm, that’s funny, I always thought it was ‘hock’.’  Then I realised that the times that I have heard people talking about ‘hocking’/’hawking’ have been in American films.

So General American has the LOT/THOUGHT merger (or at least many speakers of GA do, I’m sure there are exceptions), resulting in homophonous pairs like cot-caught, Don-dawn etc.  At this point, I thought that I had uncovered my own eggcorn, mistaking GA hawk for hock.  Quite why I’d settled on a word I’m not even sure exists I can’t say.  But then I remembered hearing some fairly RP speakers talking about being in hock to somebody.  I wasn’t even sure what this meant when I heard it, but in my head I remember linking it with hock meaning to sell/pawn, so presumed it was something to do with owing somebody something.  Searching for in hock to confirmed this.  I began to wonder whether this was some elaborate eggcorn that had somehow stuck and was being used in more than one context.

Then I began to wonder whether the puzzle was the problem, and that the puzzle writer who had interpreted hock as hawk.  Searching for hawk something returns a few results, but you also get asked by Google if you mean hock something.  This leads me to believe that I actually had heard hock as hock and that this wasn’t an eggcorn on my part.

EDIT: after a certain amount of foraging, it appears that hawk has indeed been used to mean ‘sell’ for a long time.  The OED entry for hawk (verb) has it as a backformation from hawker, meaning either to carry out the trade of a hawker transitive), or to offer for sale (this one intransitive, perhaps explaining why Google didn’t like hawk something), attested since the 16th century.  The entry for hock (verb) is simply ‘to pawn’, originating from in hock, meaning ‘in prison/in debt/gambling’, attested from the 19th century onwards.  So this really seems to go a lot further back than just me doing an online word puzzle.  There do seem to be two distinct meanings, with hawk meaning ‘sell’ and hock meaning ‘pawn’, but these two meanings might be converging somewhat, given the apparent confusion between the two, and maybe the homophony between the two words in GA has played a role in that.

A message from the LangSoc library

Hello there!

It’s Laura here, posting as LangSoc librarian.  Wait, LangSoc has a library?  Well, we’re working on it.  I thought I’d post up some info on how the LangSoc library is progressing, how you can help out, and some information on finding resources.

The LangSoc Library

As of just before the end of last semester, LangSoc now has some library space in the DSB along with the PhilSoc library (located in the resource room on the 6th floor)  The next step is to find some material to put on the shelves we have.  At the minute, we’re in the process of approaching various sources, and we’re waiting on replies.  Being low on funding, we’re on the lookout for donations of books that would be useful in an LEL library, and we’re also working towards getting orders out in time for the start of next year.

If anybody out there has any books or other materials that they’re thinking of getting rid of, please get in touch with LangSoc!  There might be a home for them in the library.  Perhaps you have books from previous years that you no longer refer to, but think would be useful to other students?  Or perhaps you’ve acquired too many books during your time at uni and will need a good clear-out before the end of the semester?  If you have anything that you could offer the LangSoc library, please do get in touch.

Obviously, we realise that not everyone can donate books, but you can still help.  Is there a book you’d love to get your hands on?  Maybe something that isn’t in the library?  Or a book that you found invaluable, and that you want other students to benefit from too?  Let us know about it, and we’ll look to putting an order in for next semester.  You can comment on this blog post, email us, or just mention it to a committee member at the next LangSoc event.

But next year is a fair way off – where do I go until then?

Well, the obvious answer would be the main library, but if it was that easy, I wouldn’t be writing a whole blogpost on it.  So here goes: “The LangSoc Guide to Finding Resources”…

Ask around

– Ask your classmates if they’ve managed to find anything useful or interesting.  If you’re both on the same course, then combine your resource knowledge.  If a group of you get together, you’ll have a great pool of material.  Classmates may be able to lend you books, let you photocopy bits and pieces, or send you links that you might not have found yourself.

– Ask LangSoc.  Next time you’re at the pub on a Wednesday, why not ask some LangSoc members if they have any recommendations?  There’s a fair chance you’ll find someone who’s taken the same class and can guide you to some great material.  (You don’t need to restrict this to Wednesday night pub time…)

– Ask tutors or lecturers.  If you’re really struggling to find things, get in touch with a tutor or lecturer.  Whilst you can’t guarantee that they’ll lend things out, they will certainly be able to point you in the right direction.  If you know which book you want but can’t get a hold of it, course organisers might be able to ensure a copy gets put on reserve in the library, or else might be able to suggest alternative sources.

Search around

– Search the library shelves.  This might seem obvious, but it’s something I didn’t think to do until third year.  If you’ve found a book on the library shelves that seems ideal, look at surrounding titles to see what else there is to offer.  It might not be on your reading list, but you could find a real gem.

– Search the library catalogues and databases.  Something else I didn’t discover until third year was the library database system.  You can access it through the Library tab in WebCT (click ‘More Library Resources’ on the right of the page > select ‘Databases’ from the list > ‘Sort databases by subject’ > scroll down to find ‘Linguistics and English Language’).  This is a fantastic way of searching through the journals available for a suitable article.  Some can be accessed as electronic journals, others are available for reference use in the library basement.

– Search other libraries.  Don’t forget that the main library is not the only one available.  The Philosophy and Psychology library deserves a special mention, hidden away as it is in the maze of 7 George Square.  At the end of this post is a link with more detailed information on library locations and access.  As for non-university libraries, the National Library of Scotland is a copyright library, with a copy of everything ever published. It’s only a reference library, and you may have to reserve things in advance, but it’s definitely worth trying if you can’t find material elsewhere.

– Search online.  Depending on how much material you need, online searches can be variably useful.  Google Books will rarely have entire books, but if you’re lucky will provide a chapter or so.  Google Scholar is very much like the library database system, and can help you find articles within books.  If all you need is a citation, this method can be great, but it isn’t ideal when you’re looking for primary sources.  In that case, try searching for the author of the work you’re after.  If he/she has a personal webpage, there might be some links available there.  There is no guarantee, but it can prove worthwhile.

– Search in bibliographies.  This is more a method of finding wider reading.  If you’ve read a paper or a chapter that you’ve found useful, check in its bibliography to see what else you can find.  This can be a great way of building up a wider reading list that can really develop your understanding of a topic.  Once you get enthusiastic about a topic, you start reading for your own enjoyment rather than just for work, and that’s surely the best kind of reading there is, right?

Well I hope this has been somewhat helpful.  Unfortunately, WebCT is playing up, and some of the links I would have liked to give you are not behaving.  If you’d like any more information on any of this, feel free to ask questions in the comments section, send an email, or get in touch with one of the committee.

Finally, here is the libraries link:

Taraa for now!