Two recent One Big Happy strips show Ruthie and Joe coping as best they can with unfamiliar words: thoroughfare and boycott:
Archive for the ‘Malapropisms’ Category
Back on December 27th, Doug Harris sent me this example (crucial bit boldfaced), from that day’s Daily Beast, in the article “U.S. Health Care Is Failing My Patients: From chronic conditions to mental health, our system is failing patients and doctors alike” by Farah Khan:
(1) Substance abuse, easily one of the most widespread mental health problems in this country, has yet to be adequately addressed by the current health care system. Rehab services are far and few between for patients who are addicted to drugs and alcohol.
Formally, this looks like what’s known in the speech errors business as a word reversal (Vicky Fromkin’s preferred term), word exchange (my preferred term), word metathesis, or (more colorfully) word-level spoonerism: the conventional form of the boldfaced expression is few and far between. There’s no question that such reversals or exchanges do occur as inadvertent speech errors, but there are reasons for thinking that (1) is not in fact an inadvertent error, but is more like a classical malapropism, in which the speaker or hearer produces exactly what they intended, but their production doesn’t accord with the practices of the larger community. And there’s a third possibility: that the practices of the larger community have changed to such an extent that it can no longer be claimed that (1) is clearly not in accord with them.
This is a follow-up to something I just posted on AZBlogX, “Wrestling match”, about a piece of gay porn from the C1R studio, more specifically about the first scene (of three) in the new sports-oriented porn flick Stuff It In The Hole: Take It For The Team 2, a scene about (Greco-Roman) wrestling. With totally X-rated images of the pornstars Braxton Smith and Javier Cruz, plus discussion of their characteristics as a couple and of the sex they engage in. Here I have four (non-X-rated) things to post about: the genre of wrestling porn, and three linguistic observations: about the title of the flick and about two errors in the ad copy that C1R distributed about the film — one either some kind of malapropism or a word confusion, the other probably a simple typo.
(All sorts of taboo language and sexual references.)
So I posted a brief notice of Mark Peters’s recently published bullshit lexicon, noting in passing the euphemism bullshine, which wasn’t among the many listed in the book. That has led me to a play on bullshit, the portmanteau Bullshido; through Michael Covarrubias, to the swearword malapropism bullshtein in the movie Johnny Dangerously; and through the malapropistic slur cork-soaker in that movie, to a hilarious SNL sketch “Cork Soakers”, where the expression is a comic double entendre. What a long strange trip.
An assortment of short notes that have come my way recently, on errors, back-formations, penguins, gender roles, and more.
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.