Folk etymology

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Folk etymology is change in a word or phrase over time resulting from the replacement of an unfamiliar form by a more familiar one.Oxford English Dictionary Online, "folk-etymology, usually, the popular perversion of the form of words in order to render it apparently significant"Routledge Dictionary of Language and Linguistics R.L. Trask, Dictionary of Historical and Comparative Linguistics, "Folk Etymology", p 142, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of LinguisticsWinfred Lehmann, Historical linguistics: an Introduction. Unanalyzable borrowings from foreign languages, like asparagus, or old compounds such as samblind which have lost their iconic motivation (since one or more of the morphemes making them up, like sam-, which meant 'semi-', has become obscure) are reanalyzed in a more or less semantically plausible way, yielding, in these examples, sparrow grass and sandblind.Raimo Anttila, Historical and Comparative Linguistics (Benjamins, 1989) ISBN 90-272-3557-0, pp 92-93

The term folk etymology, a loan translation from the 19th Century academic German Volksetymologie,Ernst Förstemann's essay Ueber Deutsche Volksetymologie in the 1852 work Zeitschrift für vergleichende Sprachforschung auf dem Gebiete des Deutschen, Griechischen und Lateinischen is a technical...
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