Today’s Challenge Question:
Communication breaks down when words are misused.
What is the funniest or worst breakdown you’ve ever observed?
Being a word lover, it tickles me each time I catch Dad say one. Not just because he mixes one word with another, but because he does it so delightfully.
“That’s offlandish!” he’ll cry at the television news. (Somehow, off as a prefix to this word does sound more appropriate in this instance than out.)
Or in referring to a speedy thoroughfare in town known as the beltline, he’ll ask, “are we going by way of the beltway?”
He blushes as my sister and I break out giggling. Shakes his head. Then laughs with us, goodnaturedly. It is something fun that I always associate with him… one of those loveable traits that add a bit of character to who we are.
A few years ago, I came across an actual word for this quirk of language mixup:
Spoon· er· ism – the transposition of initial or other sounds of words, usually by accident, as in “blushing crow” for a “crushing blow.” (Origin: 1895 -1900; so coined, after W.A. Spooner – 1844-1930 – an English clergyman who was noted for such slips.)
It brings to mind a famous old comedian I used to see on television who made a career out of sidesplitting spoonerisms – Norm Crosby. And one of my favorite childhood authors, Lenora Mattingly Weber, who endowed one of her characters with this endearing quirk-ability.
When I looked up the definition just now, I found two more famous…and loveable… examples:
- Spoonerism was chosen as one of the character personalities of the seven dwarfs during the production of Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, becoming the signature of lead dwarf, Doc.
- And, award-winning author Shel Silverstein cleverly used it to title his last children’s book, Runny Babbit: A Billy Sook.
Hmm… Walt Disney and Shel Silverstein. Not such bad company, Dad. 🙂
Words that funny our ticklebone. 🙂 There’s nothing better.
© Pam Depoyan
Do you know anyone adept at spoonerism? 🙂