Smile! It’s Day 3, “Words Matter” Week 2012

Today’s Challenge Question:

Communication breaks down when words are misused. 

What is the funniest or worst breakdown you’ve ever observed?


Word Quirks

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?  🙂 


About Pam@Writing...Apples of Gold

I love to hear your thoughts, even chat back and forth amongst comments.Won't you join the conversation? :) ..................................................................................................................... May my stories refresh you, like a whisper from our Father's Heart !
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4 Responses to Smile! It’s Day 3, “Words Matter” Week 2012

  1. Diane says:

    Oh, my gosh, Pam! If you only knew…I’m the queen of spoonerisms! Since I’m a child…first letters of words get transposed. I do it all the time. My family thinks it’s hysterical because it sounds right to me, but it comes out backwards. I speak it and just keep on talking. About a second or two later, sometimes (not always) I’ll realize I said it wrong. Sometimes, I don’t even catch it because it sounds so right to me. I’m famously known for: East Clintwood. I naturally call him that. Even seeing it in print here, it seems right to me…We have friends who are Fred and Ronnie. I always say, “Fronnie and Red”.

    Who knew I’d be reading your post one day about it? But, you’ve make it seem so SPECIAL. AND I THANK YOU FOR THAT! Fear Driend! (no this one didn’t come naturally)…giggle, giggle.

  2. I love that Diane! I think some of the best times we can cherish from our families are in things like this that are so uniquely fun to OUR lives. Your kids and friends will always remember those hysterical moments as special times in your family. I love how so many of those changed words can seem even better than the real ones. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your story!

  3. Yes, I remember Diane mentioning it to me when I apologized to her how sometimes I spell words like a dyslexic. I jumble letters while typing. Although not severe, I always find myself re-reading what I type because somewhere along the way, there will be a couple of words mis-typed. I think it springs from my mind, at race with my fingers, which have slowed down a little bit since my mild stroke. It is also funny when I write numbers and when I focus on them I’d find out that what I saw was not the same with what I wrote. Anyway, I don’t do it when I speak. But being Filipino, sometimes we pronounce words differently as you do. My children are very particular with it that it gives them so much laugh-about when I speak in English.

    I could just think, how would I talk to Pam and Diane if ever we meet personally? I write fairly well but I am a timid speaker. Oh, I often feel like Moses.

  4. I understand that feeling Lolita. Writing has always come easier for me than talking off the top of my head… but talking as friends would be easy, I’m sure. 🙂 Thanks for sharing…as always. And all of us mis-type… the mind is often faster than the fingers, yes… don’t worry.

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