Wednesday, July 22, 2009

WNW: Malapropism Fun

Malapropisms are some of the best parts of English. They're funny and can make your day. (That's only a slight exaggeration.)

I'm guessing a lot of you already know what they are, but let's refresh our memories. In short, a malapropism is the unintentional misuse of a word in funny way. The sentence still makes sense, but not in the way the person meant.

One fun example is in Kerry Blair's book, Mummy's the Word, where she has a character constantly using malapropisms. You know what word she means, but what she says instead is hysterically funny. I don't have a copy on me, or I'd give examples. Just find a copy and read it. You'll get a kick out of it.

A blogger who often does entire posts showing malapropisms is My Imaginary Blog. Check those posts out here. With her permission, here's her post from last Christmas, with a whopping 32 malaprops in it.

See if you can spot them all:


Today it’s poring rain, but soon, in lieu of the Christmas season, snow will come and, low and behold, it will be time to dawn your best apparel and come baring gifts! Then we will all be espiring to celebrate the soul purpose of the holiday: the peace which defines description. Christmas is truly the holiday that is a par above the rest.

Although it’s tricky to thread that line between spirituality and materialism, you can fandangle ways to remember the true meaning of Christmas, and why you are at it, still enjoy all the great traditions that come back with a vintage every year. The joy and glea of Christmas are always growing by leaps and pounds. There are always the engagments — Love is a many splended thing! And there’s the holiday intertaining, with the ubber-fun parties. I’m usually very health conscience, but at the holidays it is no holds bar — I can be sueded into excepting a treat or two. Even if it does reek havoc with my diet, I can always get back on the eleptical in the New Year and get back to a healthy regime. Also, at Christmas I like to get a new outfit – this year I have an adorable camosile which will perfectly compliment my new sweater.

So, voile! I’d just assume give as receive, but, as I eluded to above, all of these great traditions can help bring the true spirit of Christmas. Here Here!


It's almost scary how much joy these things bring me. Back to home:

My almost first-grader has taken to using the word "technically" when she means "sort of." She'll say things like, "Well, technically, we'll be leaving for Grandma's house in an hour."

"No," I tell her, "we won't be leaving until this evening."

"Well, technically, it'll be in about an hour."

"No, technically, it won't be until after dinner."

She can't seem to get it into her head that "technically" is exactly the opposite of what she thinks it means.

But the best recent malapropism I can think of in my family was when I came across a school assignment my son did a couple of years ago when they were discussing childcare.

He'd drawn a picture of a stroller with a baby inside babbling baby talk. The stroller sat beside a staircase. The boy babysitter sprawled, sleeping on the couch, holding a phone with words coming out of it saying, "Hello? Hello? Is Jamie OK?"

Across the top of the page in big, bold letters, was SAFETY TIP #1:

And the bottom had the tip and the malapropism, which I still giggle over:

Never leave children unintended.

Not quite what he was going for, but still good advice, that.


Kimberly Vanderhorst said...

Oh how that last one makes me giggle!

My husband's step-mum suffers from this affliction and brings constant (unintended) mirth to the whole family.

Kristina P. said...

I love Zina's posts! They are always so funny.

Rebecca Irvine said...

I love them too--especially when my kids spout them suddenly. It does brighten the day.

Anonymous said...

That last one is SO FABULOUS. He's wise beyond his years.

Clearly I need to read that mummy book.

(By the way, when I said it was fine for you to borrow from me, I totally forgot to say thank you and I'm flattered.)

CB said...

Funny stuff! I really enjoyed it.

Josi said...

THAT's what those are called. I never knew. Very clever stuff.

Melanie Jacobson said...

Ah, Mrs. Malaprop. We owe her (or whoever wrote her) a debt.

Blondie said...

That one from your boy reminds me of my favorite quote from a Ziggy cartoon:
"80% of pedestrians are caused by accidents."

Anonymous said...

That last one was HILARIOUS! My husband and I both cracked up.

Okay, am I the worst sort of person for admitting that it was agonizing to read the example you gave us? Funny, sure, but agonizing. (Yes, I am the worst. =[ )

Lara Neves said...

I love malapropisms. I started writing them down, because I can never remember the ones that really make me giggle. My favorites are when they are found in a colloquialism, because those are hard enough for some people to understand and they're just something we say, so they make up something that sounds right sort of makes sense when you think about it. I always get a great giggle out of those.

Bria used to say she had a sword throat instead of a sore throat. Whenever I would correct her she would tell me "No! It's a SWORD throat...there is a sword in there and it's killing my throat!"

Jillybean said...

Unintended is funny!

Erin said...

Very funny malapropisms. I was going to say malpropisms, but I didn't know if I would just look stupid :)

annie valentine said...

I love this blog.

Luisa Perkins said...

I'll never forget the first time I saw Sheridan's The Rivals. Mrs. Malaprop herself introduced me to the wacky world of malapropisms. Fabulous.

Helena said...

For a while my sister thought that "original" meant the opposite of what it does, because she kept hearing it used sarcastically. Like, "Well that's original."


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