IN TACT.

Mark Liberman at the Log reports on an eggcorn that had involves a perfectly understandable reanalysis of the word intact. “Reader RP” noticed the expression “so long as Roma culture remains in some kind of tact” on the Guardian comment boards and did some research, coming up with examples like “all welds are in complete tact,” “The binding is in good tact,” “soundboard in perfect tact,” and “all pages are still in excellent tact.” Examples with negative adjectives seem to be mostly variants of “in poor/bad taste” (“What she did may have been in poor tact, but …”), but RP turned up this lovely example:

You see the Chanel woman said you can’t make a judgment on foundation and say ‘oh this foundation is rubbish it doesn’t do anything for my skin when your skin is in bad tact in the first place, you have to get your skin in good tact before you can make a judgment on a product’

I never cease to be impressed by the linguistic ingenuity of native speakers.

Comments

  1. This reminds me of the GI expression “the real los” as in “So what’s the real los on this?”

  2. spherical says:

    A certain young man, slightly addled
    rode a horse he alleged to be saddled
    but his gust, which was dis
    for his hap, which was mis
    led him back to his lack, which was cadiled

  3. Lord knows what will happen to “tactile”. Shakespearian elaboration perhaps: ‘in this tact isle, this paradise, this …’.
    Anyway, all they seem to mean is “in good nick”, “in fine fettle” …….

  4. Or, or,or, perhaps they’ll search for the tact aisle at Walmart.

  5. I never cease to be impressed by the linguistic ingenuity of native speakers.
    Surpassed only by the linguistic ingenuity of non-native speakers. They speak to the sound of different drums, not played quite in tact with ours.

  6. I regularly see “stays in tact” or “leave in tact” in (internal) technical documentation, but didn’t realize it has evolved further. I assumed the authors take it to mean something like “in peace”.

  7. Do you mean “stays in peace” or “leave in peace” in the sense of “remains/is left unaffected” ? “Stays in one piece” and “leave in one piece” I could imagine occuring in internal reports on child-stress-testing of a teddy bear designed to be indestructible.

  8. I never cease to be im-completely-pressed with how native speakers are able to analyze Latin morphology.

  9. Yes, unaffected, and no, I don’t eviscerate teddy bears for living. It had to do with the elements on a web page.
    Being a non-native speaker, I didn’t dare to bring it up with the authors, although I was tempted to.

  10. Trond Engen says:

    child-stress-testing of a teddy bear designed to be indestructible
    I’ll admit I don’t know the business intimately, but I’m not sure there’s general agreement in the ethics committee on the issue of whether it’s the teddy bear that shall come out of these tests intact.

  11. “I never cease to be im-completely-pressed with how native speakers are able to analyze Latin morphology. ”
    Yeah. In-fucking-credible.
    Although I bet by the time it’s being analyzed, it’s English morphology.

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