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AWADmail Issue 28March 28, 2001
A Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Other Interesting Tidbits about Words and Languages
From: Anu Garg (garg AT wordsmith.org)
Here is your fill of mondegreen, malapropism, spoonerism, paronomasia, and rodomontade, words from a couple of weeks ago. For more mondegreens, see AWADmail Issue 14.
From: Jeff Goris (jeff.gorisATvodafone.com.au)
I asked my speech recognition program "Can you recognise speech?" Its response was "No I can't wreck a nice beach."
From: Tamara Thomas (ththomasATcnmlaw.com)
After returning from the podiatrist, I told my husband I had a neuroma (damaged nerve between the toes), my husband replied, "I could have told you your toes have an aroma."
From: Chris and Maureen (chrisandmaureenATworldnet.att.net)
Message heard on LA radio traffic advisory:
"Maniacs see dents on the 405 freeway"
From: Frances McCunnie (frances_mccunnieATmirvac.com.au)
Our local hairdresser was called "Hair Events" - without seeing the written form, "Hairy Vents" seemed a pretty unusual name for the business!
From: Minna Choe (mchoeATadobe.com)
Kids are really great at this. I heard that one student overheard some teachers being anxious about the district's superintendent coming to visit the school. He immediately ran off to tell his friends, "The Super-Nintendo is coming!"
From: Dan Harrison (dharrisnAThfcc.net)
Best example I can think of was by a little girl who wrote home from summer camp, explaining that she had developed "dire rear."
From: Michael Brunelle (mb27bcATaol.com)
Children are a great source for mondegreens. A few months ago my five year old son informed us that he thought he was "black toast intolerant", (lactose intolerant).
From: Candace Orsetti (a1wordsmithATaol.com)
Shortly after the anti-inflammatory drug naproxen sodium became available over the counter, my dad complained to my mom about his recurrent back pain. She told him, "Maybe you should take Aleve."
He responded, "It's not so bad that I need to take time off work!"
From: K Haviland (dkdjATworldnet.att.net)
At the risk of irreverence, it should be noted that just about every 9-year-old boy in Sunday School finishes the Lord's Prayer with "and lead a snot into temptation."
From: Greg Merkley (gregATpositivespace.com)
The word mondegreen was the first word from AWAD I taught to all my children. Not long after, my 13 year-old daughter added her own entry to the lexicon of mondegreens when she described a book she had been told about: "Catch Her in the Rhine" by J.D. Salinger!
From: Peter Collingwood (peterATplysplit.demon.co.uk)
The Sunday School treat involved a trip out, much eating, and the singing of hymns during the return journey. The children happily sang, "We can sing, full though we be", rather subverting the original "Weak and sinful though we be".
From: Trina Bouvet (bouvetATesrf.fr)
An example from my 4 year old son: That's not a toy ota, it's a big ota.
From: Philip Spear (pjspearsrATwebtv.net)
Our 5 year old grandson insisted that he wanted a "toadstool" for breakfast; he was satisfied with a "toasted strudel".
From: Ernest M. Fishman (erniemfATcatskill.net)
Thanks for reviving mondegreen. It was the first word I got with my new subscription and the one I use the most of the AWAD words in daily conversation. As for an additional mondegreen heard in San Juan during the playing of our national anthem, "Jose can you see..."
From: Melanie Zeck (einalemxeqATemail.msn.com)
An avid science fair participant as a child, I studied myxomycology. In the tenth grade, I had to be excused from a week's worth of classes to attend and compete in the International Science and Engineering Fair. When asked by my homeroom teacher why I was going, I replied that I would be presenting my research on myxomycetes. He actually thought I was talking about "mix of my CDs."
From: Sue Frank (sunafrATaol.com)
Years ago, when my children were small and we were leaving for an out-of-town trip, my babysitter's father was supposed to come to the house to pick up the spare key for her. We had never met him before. Around dinner time, when the doorbell rang, I opened the door and found a clergy man standing there who said, "A man's dead." While I was processing this, I gave him, I'm sure, one of my blankest "what are you talking about" looks. He repeated himself. When it dawned on me, I was embarrassed and went to get him the key. What he had actually said was "I'm Anne's dad."
From: Barbara Kirby (barbara.kirbyATusa.xerox.com)
I do think television and radio commercials are wonderful providers of mondegreens. My particular favorite was a vacuum cleaner that promised to pick up all of my "pet heron dirt." As an avid birdwatcher, I would love to have a Great Blue Heron as a pet, but I imagine they do make a horrible mess. However, after listening more closely, I learned that this sweeper actually picks up "pet hair and dirt." Alas, no pet heron for me.
From: Vicki Blier (vbATblier.net)
Of course, there's always the company that offers "the ultimate inconvenience." I've heard this in radio ads not once, but twice!
From: Ron Davis (davisATcanada.com)
Since you have in the past issued both the words "mondegreen" and "clerihew" (at different times), perhaps you will share my enjoyment of this combination of the two (not my creation, alas):
From: Brian A Fahey (brianfaheyATjuno.com)
Perhaps my most humorous personal experience with a malapropism was as follows. Being invited to some affair which required Black Tie. I dressed in same and was walking through the kitchen, headed for the garage. Our housekeeper took a look at me and said, "Oh, you look so extinguished" All I could say was "Thank you".
From: Todd Hynson (hynsontATttemi.com)
This word reminds me of "The Rugrats" on Nickelodeon. Having a four year old, I am usually recruited to watch such things. This particular show uses malapropisms quite regularly probably in an attempt to entertain the adults that are watching. In one episode, for instance, Angelica, a four year old character on the show, sues her parents for making her eat broccoli. She subsequently fires her attorney for "gross incontinence."
From: Lisette (lis44ATaol.com)
One of my favorite malapropisms came from a friend who unfortunately had a terrible flood in her basement. She wrote, "It was terrible! Water was flowing from every orpheus imaginable!"
From: Shelagh (nationATmweb.co.za)
My dear 94-year-old Cockney ma-in-law mangles the English language; we collect some of the more memorable comments. Here are some.
From: Randall Pratt (rpratt36ATtexas.net)
I heard one from a teacher of relaxation who assured us that "relaxation is not a placenta for everything."
From: Jill Henaghen (jhenagheATtampabay.rr.com)
Lots of chances for fans of the Sopranos to hear malaprops - latest case in point: "There's no stigmata connected with going to a shrink."
From: Amy Turek (aturek2ATunl.edu)
A good friend of mine told me once that he and his wife were having dinner with some friends and the subject turned to religion. At one point, his wife asked someone, "What religion are you afflicted with?"
From: David John (david.w.johnATatt.net)
Below are some of the many malapropisms used apparently without notice by a friend of mine. We especially love and admire the ones that partially express the meaning of the intended word.
Malletable used when malleable is meant. Omnibusman used when ombudsman is meant. It's a mute point.
From: Tom Haley (tomAThaleyfloral.com)
My favorite malapropism is from Mrs. Malaprop herself: "Why, she is the very pineapple of perfection!"
From: Cindy Winn (winnATenter.net)
My mother-in-law employed a Mrs. Malaprop who suffered from very close veins, and regularly visited her choir practor.
From: Marty Sutton (msuttonATlowndes.k12.ga.us)
I once taught in a school where the principal was almost as famous as Norm Crosby. My personal favorite was broadcast over the intercom system after completing a successful fire drill. "Congratulations students, you excavated the building in three minutes." I still have a vision of all those 7th and 8th graders outside with shovels digging their little hearts out.
From: Rose-Ann Lavery (roseannATfairweatherproperties.com)
The unwitting use of malapropisms is quite common in deaf people--they mis-hear the pronunciation of words. The comedian Norm Crosby wore two hearing aids and I'm sure the idea for his routine came out of that affliction. My mother has worn a hearing most of her life and her malapropisms are legend in our family. My favourites are: When her brother installed a new Jacuzzi, "So, how are you enjoying lolling about in your zucchini?"; While watching a movie about an autistic child, "I think that little boy is acoustic."
From: Stanley Burroway (stanlizATworldnet.att.net)
It's a hard world, but as a 13-year-old girl essayist I know recently wrote: "We should not take everything for granite."
From: L. P. Boston (lpbostonATcompuserve.com)
Colonel Stoopnagle, radio comedian of the 1930s and 40s, put children's stories into spoonerized form. A collection of stories was published in the 1940s under the title MY TALE IS TWISTED. The best of the lot was "Prinderella and the Cince," a story that would "make your cresh fleep," that would give you "poose gimples," especially at the ball when "the sugly isters stood bilenty sy, not cinderizing Reconella in her goyal rarments." I had much sport reading the story aloud, reading it aloud so often that I no longer needed the book.
From: Deborah Blankenberg (dblankenbergATjps.net)
My mother was famous (well, in our immediate family, anyway) for her spoonerisms. My all-time favorite is her inadvertent reference many years ago to then-Sen. Jacob Javitz of New York as "Janitor Sevitz."
From: C Dollar (cdollarATwinstar.com)
My favorite spoonerism is one that my mother told me about when I was a kid. She had been reading a biography of somebody (Spooner?), and it contained the following. When attempting to announce that 'The Lord is a loving Shepherd', he instead stated that 'The Lord is a shoving leopard.' The image still makes me smile.
From: S. Khai Mong (khaiATiware.com)
Spoonerism brings up a familiar topic for my native language, Burmese. Among children there, spoonerizing words is the equivalent of pig Latin among English-speaking children. The Burmese language, being very light on final consonants, is very amenable to spoonerizing. Moreover, being a monosyllabic language, the spoonerized words invariably have literal meanings.
It brings up an interesting bi-lingual word riddle game my sisters and I used to play based on spoonerisms.
For example, the capital city of Burma, Rangoon, now known as Yangon spoonerizes to Yon-Gan (Rabbit Kick). So, we'd ask in English, the riddle "Where did the rabbit kick?" and the answer would be "Yangon" or Rangoon.
Another example is the vegetable okra (or ladies fingers, as known in some parts for the world): Yone-Ba-Day spoonerizes to Yay-Ba-Done (Water Wasp). So the question in English would be: "Have you ever eaten a water wasp?" and the correct answer would be "Yes, I like okra."
From: Katherine E. Hudson (kehudsonATgv.net)
One of my favorites, supposedly blurted out by the announcer who had the honor of introducing the first radio address by a President of the U.S., is "Ladies and gentlemen, it is my very great pleasure to present the President of the United States, Mr. Hoobert Heever!"
From: Clare Cross (cdcATams.org)
Thanks for spoonerism. I didn't know there was a word for that - and I have an embarrassing example of my own. When I was teaching English, I once made a reference to that classic American novel _F*ck Hinn_.
From: Kay White (whiteworxATwebtv.net)
Does that mean that to have a well-developed ability to create puns is a paronomasian grace?
From: Evan (cpyrgtlwrATaol.com)
Ridiculous! Sophomoric, childish, even infantile! I knew the meaning of this word before it even came in!
(Thanks for the great job you are doing -- my daily treat!)
A word has its use, / Or, like a man, it will soon have a grave. -Edwin Arlington Robinson, poet (1869-1935)