About

I'm Mike Pope. I live in the Seattle area. I've been a technical writer and editor for over 30 years. I'm interested in software, language, music, movies, books, motorcycles, travel, and ... well, lots of stuff.

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It is enough for an author to have written something for it to be true, with no proof other than the power of his talent and the authority of his voice.

— Gabriel García Márquez



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Blog Statistics

Dates
First entry - 6/20/2003
Most recent entry - 5/22/2018

Totals
Posts - 2498
Comments - 2574
Hits - 2,049,330

Averages
Entries/day - 0.46
Comments/entry - 1.03
Hits/day - 376

Updated every 30 minutes. Last: 8:47 AM Pacific


  09:17 PM

I was reading an article today about Zika, the viral disease that's causing microcephaly in Latin America. Tragic. But I was taken by a language aspect to the article. At one point, the author writes:
Less pesticide means [...] more mosquito-born diseases.
This spelling appears twice in the article, so it seems to be deliberate. There are a couple of possibilities here, I think.

One possibility is that the writer intends borne, but doesn't know how to spell it. This isn't surprising; they're homophones, after all, and born is anywhere from 20 to 50 times more common than borne, depending on which corpus you examine.

Another possibility is that the writer doesn't realize that he really means borne, i.e., the past tense of bear (mosquito-borne disaease == mosquitos bear [carry] the disease). In that case, mosquito-born is an eggcorn: an error, but one that sort of makes sense, since the disease might be "born of" mosquitos.

In edited text it doesn't show up very much. For example, the COCA database lists only one instance of mosquito-born versus 92 instances of mosquito-borne. But a Google search produces page after page of examples, so the writer here would definitely have seen other examples in print.

All in all, it's a pretty interesting error.

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