An assortment of short notes that have come my way recently, on errors, back-formations, penguins, gender roles, and more.
Archive for the ‘Malapropisms’ Category
Yesterday, I said, in answer to a question about the acceptability of some tea:
I don’t know. I just took my first steps.
A word substitution, clearly (steps for intended sips (of tea)) — involving two very common words, which I’m unlikely to have confused. So: not a classical malapropism, and also clearly not a mistake based on semantics. Instead, it’s a Fay/Cutler malapropism, based on the great phonological similarity between target and actual production: two monosyllables sharing initial /s/, final /s/, and a vowel that is lax and (non-low) front.
But why should I have made this particular mistake?
Look further to the context context context: I was taking my first sips of the tea, and I was learning to take my first steps with a walker, after surgery. (I have been living La vida medical.)
Linguists will find their examples wherever they can.