Besides being a very naughty governor, South Carolina's Mark Sanford turns out to have a penchant for purple prose, as evidenced by his email correspondence with his Argentine inamorata. Here, from July 10, 2008, is one of the juicy bits:
I could digress and say that you have the ability to give magnificently gentle kisses, or that I love your tan lines or that I love the curves of your hips, the erotic beauty of you holding yourself (or two magnificent parts of yourself) in the faded glow of night’s light — but hey, that would be going into the sexual details we spoke of at the steakhouse at dinner — and unlike you I would never do that!
I could ... but I won't. Such a coy lover, that Marco!
However, I was drawn to a more banal sentence in the same email. See if you can figure out why:
Tomorrow night back to Philadelphia for the start of the National Governor’s Conference through the weekend. Back to Columbia for Tuesday and then on Wednesday, as I think I had told you, taking the family to China, Tibet, Nepal, India, Thailand and then back through Hong Kong on world wind tour.
It was the last three words that blew me away: "world wind tour." This apparent conflation of "world tour" and "whirlwind tour" turns out to be not a Sanford original but a fairly common eggcorn: a mis-heard term that's assigned a creative spelling (and definition too, usually). The Eggcorn Database lists six citations of world wind for whirlwind, and they're probably just the tip of the cyclone.
For the record, a whirlwind is "a small rotating windstorm" or, metaphorically, "a confused rush." Adjectivally, as in a whirlwind romance, it means "fast-moving" or "tempestuous." One of the most famous whirlwinds appears in Hosea 8:7: "For they sow the wind and they shall reap the whirlwind."*
Eggcorns are usually created when words are learned by ear rather than by reading. But amazingly, some people are capable of getting it wrong even when they know (and see!) the source of the phrase. Here's reader SilverHawk confidently and erroneously answering a question submitted to The Phrase Finder in which whirlwind is spelled correctly ("I was just hoping to find out the origin and meaning of the saying which goes something like 'sow the wind; reap the whirlwind'"). SilverHawk's spelling and punctuation sic:
NASA, by the way, has created a downloadable open-source tool called World Wind that "lets you zoom from satellite altitude into any place on Earth." Perhaps Gov. Sanford should use this World Wind, from the comfort of his den, the next time he gets a whim to hike the Patagonian Trail.
* Source: Masoretic text of the Old Testament— i.e., translated directly from Hebrew.
Reminds me of the famous Berkeley bumper sticker: Visualize Whirled Peas.
Posted by: Mark Gunnion | June 29, 2009 at 02:25 PM
Thank you so much for another witty and sublime post. Your title," Eggcorns (acorns)Caught in Love Nest" conjures up the image of a nest that is uncomfortable for a chick or bird.
The section of e-mail chosen shows Standford to be a frustrated poet.
With a little work the text message could rival Sonnet 18 by W.S. All it needs is a title. "Ode to a Tan Line" (at Ye Olde Steake House")
Posted by: Nick | June 29, 2009 at 05:50 PM