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AWADmail Issue 556

A Weekly Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Tidbits about Words and Language

Sponsor’s Message: “Old’s Cool” sums up our philosophy of life in a neat little turn of phrase - even though our real motto is “Shamalamading dong the doo dang dee.” But that’s another story. Even though it’s kind of too late (what else is new?), we’re offering this week’s Email of the Week winner, Iain Calder (see below), as well as all fathers, grandfathers, and family men everywhere 20% off -- through midnight tonight -- just be sure to use coupon code “SHOP4POP”.

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Linguistic errors

A few years ago I spoke to a bunch of schoolkids about wordplay. A week later I received a packet from the school with letters from the students. One student had written,

Dear Mr Garg,
Yank thou for coming to our school and talking about wordplay. My favorite was spoonerism....

Who knew errors (inadvertent or intentional) could be so much fun? In the deluge of email that came in in response to this week's words, there were notes from teachers who sent bloopers of their students and students who shared those of their professors; parents emailed their kids' sayings, and kids spilled the beans on their parents (especially mothers-in-law); broadcasters sent what they blurted on radio, and listeners shared what they heard.

Some even shared their own linguistic errors. Below is a small selection of spoonerisms and more. To prevent this issue of AWADmail from being blocked by email filters that don't like things too long or too suggestive, we have put a lot more of the selected responses on our website. See AWADmail 556 Extra.


Many people consider Walmart to be a blight on the landscape. I, for one, prefer to call them a Mall wart.
-Iain Calder, Kanata, Canada (iain.calder sympatico.ca)

I once committed the ultimate spoonerism by calling a faux pas a paux fas!
-Daniel Fatovich, Perth, Australia (dfatovich gmail.com)

Then well-known banjo player, Eddie Peabody, was once introduced by the emcee, who announced that, "Eddie Playbody will now pee for you."
-Mary Hill, Yakima, Washington (jasaala aol.com)

My mother, referring to the tennis star Billie Jean King: "King Jelly-Bean".
-Robert Arndt, Houston, Texas (saworld aramcoservices.com)

At New College, Oxford (where the Rev. Spooner was based), the graduate common room is referred to as "The Spoom", short for the "Rooner Spoom" -- the formal name of the room is the Spooner Room but the graduate students, in tribute, made it into a spoonerism.
-Dylan Reid, Toronto, Canada (dylan.reid utoronto.ca)

I was mentoring a recently ordained clergyperson, taking his first wedding, when he came to asking if anyone can show "...any just cause why these two persons may not be 'joyfully loined' together in holy matrimony, they should speak now or forever hold their peace." The words should have been "lawfully be joined" and thankfully it was at the rehearsal, as nobody could 'hold their peace' for several minutes.
-Peter Gunning, Ballito, South Africa (saints111 telkomsa.net)

A friend, wishing to celebrate his divorce, suggested that we go to the saloon for a beverage. I suggested that if he wanted decoration for the party he might consider a balloon for the severage.
-Tromboniator (via Wordsmith Talk online forum)


The award for best malapropism of 1968 goes to Mayor Richard M. Daley of Chicago: "Today we will rise to higher and higher platitudes."
-Robert Maxwell, Deming, New Mexico (rmax304823 yahoo.com)

While working in Moscow some years ago, several of us overheard a colleague complaining about Russian: "I just can't get a handle on this acrylic alphabet."
-Hilary Evans, Ottawa, Canada (hil666evans hotmail.com)

A patriotic and proper London-born friend, referring to his dual US/British citizenship and obviously hesitating over "throne" vs. "crown", was chagrined to hear himself tell us that he would always be loyal to the crone.
-Jackie Pels, Walnut Creek, California (jrbpels igc.org)

My aunt was fond of lying down on the sofa with an "African" (afghan) on top of her!
-Char Young, Renton, Washington (swedishchair yahoo.com)

I do volunteer hospital chaplaincy one morning a week. It's an orthopaedic ward, so there are a lot of elderly patients and I often get to hear stories and reminiscences. One patient was telling me of his wartime travels and how, out of all the places he'd been, the one he'd go back to was Egypt. "Why there?" I asked. "Well, there's so much history there -- the pyramids, the Sphinx, the museums ... and Tutankhamen's oesophagus."
-Ri Weal, Palmerston North, New Zealand (poetri yakpost.net)

I will never forget bumping into an acquaintance who was on the way to the vet with her dog, because he had "a bone stuck in his sarcophagus".
-Sally Stretch, Durban, South Africa (sestretch mweb.co.za)

Freudian slip

A friend of mine was ill and needed to get a biopsy done. Her husband upon hearing this asked her a bit later when the autopsy would take place so he could go with her! Her reply: "Not quite yet dear."
-Margriet Hecht, Portland, Oregon (mihecht earthlink.net)

A spoonerism that once passed my lips, as if by Freudian slip, was "nagavate" when I'm sure I meant to say "navigate". My dear wife, Julie, and sitting beside me, was only trying to help undo an errant turn.
-James Fay, Boulder, Colorado (jefay me.com)

My husband made one of these one day as we were on a drive. I usually navigate (no GPS for us!) and I let us pass the restroom stop he needed to make. As he realized we had passed it he exclaimed, "You are supposed to be the nagivator, aren't you?" It was, according to him, completely by accident. He would certainly never call me a nag.
-Mary Hill, Yakima, Washington (jasaala aol.com)

Brings to mind a very funny incident. A friend once received a wedding invitation card which said, "Please grace the occasion with your presents."
-Shashi Panicker, Surat, India (panicker302 hotmail.com)


I overheard a guy who had just driven across country say that "The car was loaded to the tilt."
-Harry Bower, San Francisco, California (fluteoftheroom gmail.com)

My four-year-old granddaughter refers to previous times as "lasterday" and "lastertime".
-Cricket Vandover, St Louis, Missouri (byjiminy hotmail.com)

How about an eggcorn in the marriage ceremony? "Till debt do us part."
-Fran Glica, Lansdale, Pennsylvania (fhrg comcast.net)

One of my students wrote, "I was born from my mother's wound."
-sanA (via Wordsmith Talk online forum)

I live in Kolkata, India and it has surely got to be the Eggcorn Mecca. People frequently ask for a "date-line" instead of a deadline. "Cheap Minister" refers to chief minister (of a state).
-Ananya Biswas, Kolkata, India (ananya.biswas gmail.com)

My sister when she was a baby used to call a "napkin", a "lapkin". We all thought it was quite charming.
-Susan Wayne, Oakland, California (suz4719 sbcglobal.net)

My favorite example of this is a blooper from an old television series with Bill Bixby. He was talking about a wife beater husband and said, "He's an egg beater and that makes it worse."
-Michelle Hakala, Lodi, California (winebird winebird.com)


Here in Ireland in the 1980s some of us could not figure out why Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton were getting so worked up about Ireland's industry. (Islands in the Stream)
-David Burke, Tuam, Ireland (davidburke tuamherald.ie)

Years ago, as a boy in India, the All-India Radio newscaster would typically begin: "This is All-India Radio..." For some reason, I always heard it as "This is all in the radio..." and wondered why the newscaster reminded us daily that the news was indeed coming from within the radio. I'm not sure whether the following is an example of a mondegreen or a Freudian slip. There is a line in the song "Down Under" by Men at Work: "I met a strange lady, she made me nervous", which I would sing as "I met a strange lady, she made me undress", till my older sister corrected me and put me out of my reverie.
-Binoy Thomas, Doha, Qatar (binoythomas1108 gmail.com)

There should be a word to describe this mondegreen from one language to another. It happens all the time! In U2's song "One" they say "to drag the past out", but we Spanish speakers hear "Te traigo pasta" (I bring you pasta). Likewise, in The Eagles' "Hotel California" they sing "then she lit up a candle", but we hear "el chinito pecando" (the little Chinese is sinning). Go figure.
-José L. Palacios, Caracas, Venezuela (jopalal gmail.com)

I am hearing-impaired and have a telephone with closed captioning on a screen. In a recent phone conversation, this wonderful mondegreen came across. My friend was describing the preparation of a drink and she said, "throw out the pulp and keep the juice." But the CC read, "Throw out the Pope and keep the Jews." Those closed captioning fellas have a pretty vivid imagination!
-Dean M. Laux, Englewood, Florida (dlaux6 comcast.net)

Read more online in AWADmail 556 Extra.

Men ever had, and ever will have leave, / To coin new words well suited to the age, / Words are like leaves, some wither every year, / And every year a younger race succeeds. -Horace, poet and satirist (65-8 BCE)

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