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eggcorn spotting: "shoulder on" for "soldier on" - Language Computeer
Fists of irony
eggcorn spotting: "shoulder on" for "soldier on"
I've spotted n the use of "shoulder on" vs. "soldier on". Spotted in a preview blurb for "Wolverine #8": "Wolverine must shoulder on after having his mind tampered with."

"Shoulder on" (in place of "soldier on") is an interesting mixup, because it involves swapping the palatalization from the second onset (in "soldier") to the first (in "shoulder"), at some distance, and because of a reasonable folk etymology: "shoulder" like "shoulder a burden" already has a meaning of "effort, strain".

The original term is definitely "soldier on": the OED cites "to soldier on" (to persevere, to carry on doggedly) as going back to 1954 (I would have thought it was older). It also includes a number of verbal uses of "shoulder" but none with that meaning.

Googling "soldier on" (910 kGhits) vs. "shoulder on" (375 kGhits) suggests I'm onto something. However, there is some interference from a spelling mistake with "solder" vs. "shoulder", possibly also related to an ironworking use of "shouldering" (to bend [metal] like a shoulder?). Also, it's difficult to separate out the genuine uses from the accidental ("Soldier on, escalate, or get out?" -- a Pat Buchanan headline, a genuine use, vs. "Christian Soldier on the High Court" -- a Molly Ivins headline).

If we look at modals, though, we can restrict to verbal uses. However, we still need to be aware that "shoulder t on ..." isn't the same use: "a burden that she can shoulder t on her own" is not the same (the t is intended to represent a trace -- the "embedded" location of "a burden" in the previous sentence).

"can soldier on": 901, unfiltered
"can shoulder on": 1, after removing the "shoulder t on" from the 8 returned by google.

"ought to soldier on": 6
"ought to shoulder on": 0, after removing accidentals.

"should shoulder on": 49 (though it appears that only 2 of the first 10 are true eggcorn hits, so this number is probably lower)
"should soldier on": 627 (10 for the first 10)

Other unfiltered results with modals:

"must shoulder on": 119
"must soldier on": 586

Crossposted to the Eggcorn Database on this thread.


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From: det_n Date: November 5th, 2005 01:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
So - does to shoulder on as a phrasal verb exist or is it merely the result of a long day of a tired critic?

Among the 48 or 49 hits for "should shoulder on", there's only one that matches your intention (... One should shoulder on and try one's best...). All the other hits are different cases:

... Québec should shoulder, on what the budget of a ...
... should shoulder on its own ...
... that they should shoulder on the shoulders of others ...

The hits for "must shoulder on" are similar. How many hits does one need for a phrase to be considered a true eggcorn (thanks for introducing me to that term, btw :))?
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