Thursday, February 28, 2013
Shirr madness on the runway
This photo ran in Tuesday's New York Times with a caption describing the garment as a Jil Sander "beaver coat, longhaired on the top, shirred below."
Shirred is a perfectly good fashion word -- shirring is gathering fabric on a cord or thread(s) -- but I don't see any shirring on that coat. I think the lower section is actually sheared, i.e., cut shorter than the fur on top.
The author, Cathy Horyn, certainly knows the difference, but she probably never saw the photo. Whoever provided the caption probably heard "shear"; the editor who wrote the caption was similarly clueless; and shirred is fine with spellcheck. It's just not correct.
I don't think this can be an eggcorn, because I doubt that the people who put it into print gave a thought to what shirred might be referring to. Which reminds me of another tidbit of wisdom from the Old Editor: "If there's a word in the text you don't understand, and you let the text go, you haven't edited it."
I'm still curious, though, about the original mishearing. Sheared and shirred aren't homonyms for me -- shirr sounds like "sure," not "sheer." Is there any dialect in which the two sound the same?
AP photo / Antonio Calanni