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The eggcorn: worldwind / whirlwind
Posted: 20 April 2011 07:03 PM   [ Ignore ]
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I have an acquaintance who sorts and orders his world in what seems to me to be an unusual fashion.  For him, “world” is equivalent to “whirl,” in at least one sense. 

One day, after a large thunderstorm, we observed a magnificent double rainbow and so began talking about rainbows.  He held the idea that they were very special.  In fact, he held the belief that rainbows bore a divine message particular to the occasion whenever they appeared.  He wanted to know something more about them, so I explained as best I could. 

He had only vaguely heard the word “geometry” and, for him, it was dark science and unavailable as a concept via the word itself.  As I talked with him, I learned more about the order of things in his world.  One thing led to another and near the close of our conversation, he mentioned the term “worldwind” in reference to a “whirlwind” that we had seen at the start of the storm.  It was another portent from above for him.  “World” was the same as “whirl” at least as far as “whirlwinds” went.  Far be it from me to have vigorously contested his view. 

So I became curious about the word “whirl” with a special interest in seeing if interchangeability with the word “world” might have made it into the language, and if so, when.  I set out upon the journey. 

Along the way, I discovered a “blond pig” as in “even a blond pig will find an eggcorn once in a while” and much more.  For instance, at:

http://www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_board/30/messages/1444.html

In response to the query:

“: Hello, I was just hoping to find out the origin and meaning of the saying which goes something like “sow the wind; reap the whirlwind.” Thanks!”

There was this marvelous reply:

Posted by SilverHawk on April 06, 2004,

“this is a biblical verse “those who sow the wind shall reap the worldwind” it means that that those to sow little seeds of evil (wind) shall eventually have to harvest the entire crop of damage (worldwind). simillar in meaning to “what goes around comes around.” but with a warning that it comes back multiplied. it may seem insignificant at the time of sowing (e.g. gossip/rumour) but it can grow into a full blown worldwind which will eventually distroy all including the sowers.”

Because the responder at least saw the term “whirlwind” in the query, I am tempted to refer to this as a “Blind Eggcorn.”

I’ve run across many examples over the last few years, mainly on the internets.  Until now, I haven’t been keeping any detailed notes.  I wonder if any here have ever looked into “whirl” for “world” making it into use?  It seems to me that the increasing accessibility of the internet may foster a storm of such eggcorns.

[ Edited: 20 April 2011 08:25 PM by sobiest ]
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Posted: 20 April 2011 07:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Well there’s the bumper sticker “Visualize Whirled Peas” but that’s an intentional pun.

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Posted: 21 April 2011 02:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I would suspect that the user of “worldwind” thought that his version was correct and was subtly (mis)correcting the user of the correct term.

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Posted: 21 April 2011 03:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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There may be an eschatological association going on here, associated world with the apocalypse end of the world.

There’s also weirdness going on with Google. I did a quick search of worldwind just to see how many hits it got: 368,000. I noticed that many of the hits on the first page referred to a NASA software program titled World Wind. So I did a second search that excluded the word NASA. I got 672,000 hits. Putting “worldwind” within quotation marks (hoping to avoid the world wind hits) and excluding NASA, yields 859,000 hits. How can limiting the search possibly result in more hits?

(Your results may vary. I’ve also noticed since moving to Canada, that Google privileges results from Canadian sites when I do my searches, pushing them to the top of the results list. It’s pretty clear that Google’s search algorithms are not reliable measures of overall frequency or popularity of terms or concepts. Google massages the data to present you with the results it thinks you want to see, not the actual results themselves. This may be just the thing for most searches of the web, especially for things like locating products and services, but it’s not helpful for any type of real research.)

[ Edited: 21 April 2011 03:40 AM by Dave Wilton ]
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Posted: 21 April 2011 05:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Dave Wilton - 21 April 2011 03:36 AM

It’s pretty clear that Google’s search algorithms are not reliable measures of overall frequency or popularity of terms or concepts.

In this case it looks like the NASA project is still going to mess up your search results because the Linux package to install the NASA software is called “worldwind” (all one word).

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Posted: 21 April 2011 05:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Dave, just in the last few days something major seems to have changed with google search.  I noticed weirdnesses with other search terms but noted it down first while doing a search for +(some other terms) +kook and I ended up awash in “cook” and “cooking” related site returns. 

That is serious damage.  I am not even going to guess how many cook and cooking websites there are. 

I saw the NASA software as well but it was easy though time-consuming to work around. 

I thought maybe they were caching my earlier search terms and trying to “help” me but haven’t had the time to check yet via a proxy.  Today, I check. 

Are there any viable alternatives to google?  Periodically, I start looking but so far have always returned to google.

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Posted: 21 April 2011 07:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Google has recently had the"Farmer" update and the “Panda” update and both were major revisions of their search algorithms. The internet is an ever changing landscape and Google changes in order to stay relevant. Google hasn’t worked in the ways that you guys imagine for years. Every single “result” that Google displays after a search query (in other words everything you can see on the results page) is based on what they think you want to see. None of it is “factual” in the way you’re thinking about and it hasn’t been for years.

Where websites place in the Google search results for a give keyword is quite often worth hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue to those websites. Getting a good ranking on Google is a very serious business and many millions of dollars are spent every day to try to affect those results. There’s a billion dollar industry called SEO - Search Engine Optimization - that is all about improving the Google ranking of websites. So Google has a huge stake in keeping their methods secret and in constantly adapting to the deal with the actions of people trying to game the system.

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Posted: 21 April 2011 07:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Faldage - 21 April 2011 02:52 AM

I would suspect that the user of “worldwind” thought that his version was correct and was subtly (mis)correcting the user of the correct term.

Considering the profusion of simple errors, including the incorrect quote, “those who sow the wind shall reap the worldwind” I doubt the respondent chose to indulge in such subtlety. Still, it could be a clever device.

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Posted: 21 April 2011 05:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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I’m well aware of the Google search algorithms and SEO methods. The Google algorithms work really well for general searches and have been getting better. It’s rare that I have to go to the second page to find the result I want--on a general search that is.

But the tendency of people to use Google search as a research tool is widespread, even among scholars who should know better.

But I still maintain that limiting a search and getting even more hits is truly bizarre behavior.

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Posted: 21 April 2011 06:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Yes, something is wrong somewhere in Googletown, in the hitcount department. Can’t help thinking that it is something that would be easy to fix.

What is the best engine for obtaining useful hitcounts?

Also bizarre: cases when Google will tell you there are umpty squillion hits, then you click through the pages and they dry up after about 34 hits.

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Posted: 22 April 2011 01:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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This is maddening.  Google search is actually “correcting” my spelling. 

A search for “duft” and “kook” are returning results for “duff,” “kool,” and “cook.” Millions of results!  Practically useless. 

OK.  After I calmed down, I noticed at the bottom of the first google results page:

“Tip: These results include words similar to the words in your search. [then a link:] Show results that include the exact words in your search.”

No warning, just an abrupt change in the way google works (or have I lost my mind and just never noticed it before now?) Wait… there is more:

I have always used “google advanced search.” Google advanced search is “correcting” my spelling WITHOUT offering the option at the bottom of the first result page to actually include the terms as I intended and typed them.  I found this out by sheer luck, while conducting the proxy search I mentioned I would do above in post #5. 

I used “regular search” from a few different locations via proxy and saw the offer to “Show results that include the exact words in your search.” at the bottom of the first result page.  But that option does NOT appear when using google advanced search.

Am I so far behind the times that I consider this to be a serious flaw rather than a useful new “feature?”

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Posted: 22 April 2011 02:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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It would make more sense to me if they showed what you asked for first, and made a recommendation for another kind of search, if it seemed helpful.

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Posted: 22 April 2011 02:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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OP Tipping - 22 April 2011 02:00 AM

It would make more sense to me if they showed what you asked for first, and made a recommendation for another kind of search, if it seemed helpful.

I cannot speak for the masterminds behind this seemingly devious scheme but it seems to be designed (if intentional) to ensure that my eyes at least ‘g(l)aze over’ the sponsored results and add another few seconds and an extra click for every search I do.  Considering how many searches I do on google, that will not be an insignificant amount of time.  I am considering back-charging them for “wear and tear” on my already overworked mouse!

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Posted: 22 April 2011 04:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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But I still maintain that limiting a search and getting even more hits is truly bizarre behavior.

No question about it. And that bizarre behavior goes all the way down to the Google keyword database as well and it’s got internet marketers in fits. But it does underscore the fact that Google often operates in ways that have no congruence with “common sense” and basing one’s assumptions about how Google works on common sense and human logic is often not productive.

I’m not sure how useful it would be for linguistics, but Google does provide a free keyword research tool that will tell you how many times a word or phrase is being typed into a Google search box in a month. Google External Keyword Tool

There are other tools that will provide non-filtered results for the number of hits, but I don’t know of any free ones. The best keyword research tool by far is Market Samurai and it taps into a couple of the Google APIs that aren’t subject to processing by Google Instant or Personalized Search or any of the contextual filters. It’s as close to raw data as you’ll ever get from Google and until recently the numbers were consistent, but lately they’ve been all over the map as well. Keyword research has suddenly gotten very sketchy and I’ve pretty much stopped researching new niches until things settle down.

Many, but not all, of my sites have had sudden and significant changes in their rankings and traffic, which is normal and expected after an update, but this round has been exceptionally disruptive.

There is no question that Google is aware of the issues and is working to resolve them in some way. The only question is what that will mean in the long run. Google isn’t shy about trying to shape the web and the world to suit their own purposes, whatever those may be.

[ Edited: 22 April 2011 10:16 AM by happydog ]
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Posted: 22 April 2011 05:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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I figured out what was needed to get google advanced search to recognize my terms as entered without correcting/changing them:  “+duft +kook” without the quotation marks in the “all these words:” field.

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Posted: 29 April 2011 03:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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sobiest - 22 April 2011 05:20 AM

I figured out what was needed to get google advanced search to recognize my terms as entered without correcting/changing them:  “+duft +kook” without the quotation marks in the “all these words:” field.

For the record: this appears to have changed, now, days later.  Perhaps this was just an artifact of the recent “google” upgrade.  Sometimes, now, it works as I expect(ed) sometimes not.  I hope that things settle down enough to allow predictable search results on a regular basis. 

Collecting all of one’s eggs in one basket has long been a tactic frowned upon.

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