Is there a word to describe when a folk etymology eventually becomes encoded in the language either through spelling, metaphors, semantic change or similar effects on corresponding forms?

One example might be Ger Eltern "parents" assumed to be the nominalized comparative of alt "old". Assume: that's bunk, and don't quivel over it, for sake of the argument; The word had been written Ältern eventually to show the allusion, but the word is not easily lexicallized as such, perhaps because a child has no concept of aging, only growing; it remains an independent term and officials rejected a suggestion to introduce the variant spelling, which however implies by ways of having tryed for a lenient spelling reform implies at least that school children do recognize the allusion; vice versa, assume that spelling would manifest the idea causing any evidence to the opposite becoming forgotten; I am of course first and foremost thinking of verbal speech and oral memorisation techniques, but the argument is similar; it does probably matter how the word would change subsequently, but since I'm talking about unknowns, I can't invent a good example, while I'm not aware of spectacular finds--precisely because one rather reads XY interpretation has to be rejected. Instead I'm looking for a word that conferes the idea of influence, confluence, convergence, etc.

Well, if you need something concrete: my first guess for Eltern would be from atta "father" a'ta, _________ > alta; cp Väter, Vorväter "fathers, ancestors", Vorfahren "predecessors", Ahnen "kin, relatives"; or, or, or at least alt derived from Eltern, as if rebracketed from *Hel- "to grow" + *tor-; also cp Erzieher "up-bringer, kinder-garden teacher". I would not call that a neologism.

This seems especially important for slang, that's frequently corrupted, sometimes as phono semantic calque, reinterpretation, mondegreen, malapropism.

What am I trying to prove?

  • 2
    Just to be clear, you are asking what you are asking? – user6726 Dec 2 at 21:49
  • @user6726 I'm also saying what I am saying so that's alright. The problem that I only hinted at is that "folk" is always used as if it meant wrong, but that's wrong. – vectory Dec 2 at 21:54
  • Indeed, I am asking you to talk about how I should talk about how people are talking about how people talked about how people had talked. In other words, I want to challenge established etymologies without calling them wrong. This question might look like a strawman argument as it suffers from a diffuse idea of the term "folk etymology"--perhaps that's a better subject for a question, but that seems more like a research agenda. – vectory Dec 2 at 22:17
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    If you don't know what you're trying to prove, how are we supposed to know? – Draconis Dec 2 at 22:43
  • I kind of like the whole "folk etymology that ends up influencing spelling" thing, but I can't follow the rest at all. Maybe a question on that? It does happen. Like in isle. Except the folks were supposed grammarians or somesuch. – LjL Dec 3 at 3:44

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