Is it a worldwide phenomenon found in many languages?

I give an example here.

I have heard several times in spoken Chinese that people say [t͡ʃaʊ̯˥˩] with the meaning "gotten/found". This is a nonsense word and has no other cause for emergence besides a mix of [taʊ̯˥˩] and [t͡ʃaʊ̯˧˥], both with the meaning "gotten/found" and they are freely interchangeable in this context. It seems the new formed expression gets the tone from one and the consonant from the other.

  • Can you give some examples? Commented Nov 13, 2018 at 20:41

2 Answers 2


I would call this a type of "eggcorn", or "intra-language phono-semantic matching" if you want to be pretentious.

An eggcorn is a word or phrase that's been modified to more closely match something else in the same language. Usually the result uses more common or familiar words than the original.

A few examples:

  • "Expatriate" → "ex-patriot" (as they're a former resident of a country)
  • "Praying mantis" → "preying mantis" (as it preys on other insects)
  • "In cahoots" → "in cohorts" (because they're in a group together)
  • "Due diligence" → "do diligence" (as it's something you do)

(The name, by the way, comes from an early example: "acorn" → "egg corn", because it's shaped like an egg.)


I would say it is a kind of redundancy. In Berber, we find that mainly in the grammatical morphemes, for example:

  • In kabyle:

am = as + zun(d) = as > amzun(d) = as

  • In Riffian:

tt = imperfective morpheme + gemination = imperfective morpheme > ttsemmah = forgive.imperfective aspect ( smah = forgive.perfective aspect)

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