Odds and ends

Four brief items in familiar categories: (1) a malapropism; (2) a mishearing; (3) a silly pun; and (4) a bit of folk categorization.

1. Malaprop on the hoof. From a young voter in Austin TX, interviewed this morning on NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday about his support for Barack Obama:

I’ve become s little disenfranchised with him.

Almost surely a Fay/Cutler malaprop, a glitch in the retrieval of the word disenchanted.

2. A mishearing. Of an ordinary word as a much rarer word, in a tv ad that goes:

Welcome to the world of Edible Arrangements®! [fruit baskets and fruit bouquets]

What I heard, on its first appearance, was Oedipal arrangements. Later occurrences were perfectly clear. I suspect that the first time through, the /b/ was only lightly voiced.

3. R-less pun. From the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster – Canadian Division (passed on by Arne Adolfsen on Facebook):

On the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, see my “Critical thinking” posting, here. Otherwise, the pun turns on a non-rhotic pronunciation of impostor, thereby bringing pasta into the advice.

4. Potatoes etc. From a Lawrence Downes column “Potato Island” (Long Island) in the NYT on the 26th:

Up the road from the [Islip Art Museum], a supermarket bursts with tuberous exuberance: Red, white and sweet potatoes.

This puts together (via reduced coordination) red and white potatoes (varieties of Solanum tuberosum in the family Solanaceae, along with nightshades and tomatoes) and sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas in the family Convolvulaceae, closely related to morning glories). Now, as you can see, potatoes proper and sweet potatoes are quite distantly related botaically. But they are both tubers, and their culinary uses overlap some, so there’s some inclination for people to put them into a category together — and, indeed, the name sweet potato invites you to think of a sweet potato as a kind of potato (to treat the composite expression as subsective). In my experience, some speakers — I am one — treat sweet potato as a resembloid composite (like daylily) rather than a subsective one, but others see it as subsective, positing a POTATO category that embraces both sweet potatoes and potatoes proper (the central members of the category); maybe Lawrence Downes belongs to this latter group.

(I’m skirting entirely the question of various vegetables known as yams in ordinary language. Again, the botanical categories are quite clear; the issue has to do with how expressions are used in ordinary language.)

One Response to “Odds and ends”

  1. Brief mention: more impastas « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] up on the Flying Spaghetti Monster and impastas (here), here’s another take on the same pun, done in […]

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