A Rhymes word exchange

Yesterday’s Rhymes With Orange, with a word exchange (also known as word reversal, word metathesis, and word-level spoonerism):

Here’s where the bodies are buried
–> Here’s where the berries are bodied

I’m not at all clear about the story unfolding here, but formally we’ve got a word exchange, occurring (in the world of this strip) as some kind of mistake; such things are reasonably common in real life, and so are word exchanges as a form of language play.

Two things. The first was noticed long ago: on the whole, so-called word exchanges are actualy stem exchanges, in which the stems are transposed, leaving transparent inflectional and derivational affixes in their original positions. In this case, we have

/badi/ + PL /z/ … /bʌri/ + PSP /d/
–> /bʌri/ + PL /z/ … /badi/ + PSP /d/

Two similar, but somewhat simpler, examples from my files:

dog lovers know
–> dog knowers love

shoot that fucking load
–> fuck that shooting load

The second thing is that this account doesn’t quite work for me, since in my variety of English, bury is /bʌri/  but berry is /bɛri/ rather than /bʌri/. I believe that the leveling of /ʌr/ and /ɛr/ (in favor of the latter) now predominates in American English, and has for some time — but for me, if I exchange the stems in PL bodies and PSP buried, what I get is something like

Here’s where the burries are bodied.

and this is puzzling, because I don’t have a lexical item burry.

Of course, I get the joke in the cartoon, but I do that by appreciating some details of other dialects; I understand how things work for cartoonist Hilary Price.

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