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September 20, 2017

Read this article in the September 2017 Toastmaster magazine and thought it to be pretty funny. If you like words, and I figure someone reading a newspaper might well be someone who enjoys words, then you’ll find it humorous, too.

The article Malapropisms was written by John Cadley and under the headline it says, “These examples come free with your conscription to this magazine.” And it just gets better.

“I used to live across the street from a woman named Helen, who had a wonderful way with words. Noticing the ground cover surrounding my home she complimented me on my beautiful patch of ‘pachydandruff.’ Another time she asked if I had any ‘duck tape’ she could borrow. I briefly thought to correct here – the image of a duck wrapped in tape being slightly disconcerting – but I didn’t because I realized that here before me stood a source of entertainment far more creative than anything on television. And free!

“Mistaking pachydandruff for pachysandra and duck for duct are linguistic mash – ups known as malapropisms. Grammarians call it the ‘use of an incorrect word in place of a word with a similar sound.’ I call it fall – down – funny and I can’t get enough. I wish I had collected all of Helen’s malaprops, but there is no shortage to draw from. Look no further than the world champion of twisted syntax, Yogi Bera, to hear that, when it comes to American presidential elections, ‘the state of Texas has a lot of electrical votes.’ Or the former prime minister of Australia, Tony Abbott, who expressed, with all the gravitas of a respected head of state, that ‘no one, however smart, however well educated, however experienced, is the suppository of all wisdom.’ Suppositories have their use, of course – and a valuable one it is – but they are a far cry from the intended ‘repository,’ which holds things rather than loosens them.

“… The comic gold inherent in malaprops is not lost on the professionals. Stan Laurel of the famous American comedy team Laurel and Hardy worried that his partner was having a ‘nervous shakedown’ because he kept referring to the Exalted Leader of a group they belong to as their ‘exhausted’ leader (which may have been true; just not what was intended).

“… Back in the gold old USA, Richard J. Daley, the infamous late mayor of Chicago, was not one to mince words, except when he turned them into mincemeat. To Mayor Daley, a tandem bicycle was a ‘tantrum bicycle’ and no one could tell him otherwise. As for those with a weakness for strong drink, Alcoholics Unanimous was the mayor’s sage recommendation.

“… For instance, there’s the man who saving one wife is called monotony.’ He meant monogamy. Or did he? And the woman who remarked, ‘I have a very photogenic memory.’ Photographic is the correct word, of course, but perhaps she was looking for a modeling job.

“… My all – time winner came when I took my then six – year – old son to Starbucks for breakfast. As he drank his chocolate milk he asked me if I was drinking decapitated coffee. Beat that. I dare you.”

And here is wishing you some entertaining conversation this week!

See you on the bricks.