Friday, March 17, 2017

Optical Allusion

I just finished Denis Lehane's new book, "Since We Fell", (which was great by the way--nice easy page turner) and came across the word malapropism. I had a vague sense of what the word meant in that it was using a word inappropriately but when I looked it up for a more precise meaning I found it to mean the unintentional misuse of a word in a comic manner. I like that. It speaks to the only time when I'm actually funny: the unintended pun or joke. 

I guess the word comes from a character, Mrs Malapros from the Richard Sheridan 1775 play "The Rivals". Her most famous malapropism is: He is the very pineapple of politeness." But it leads me to the question: Is it still a malapropism if it was intended? That character may not have known it was a comic misuse of the word, but the author surely did. So maybe it's a pun from the author's perspective and malapropism from that of the character's. 

It's funny that if you look up well known malapropisms, two famous people frequently come up: Archie Bunker, the well-known bigot from "All in the Family", and George W Bush, an actual person and a two-term president. Here is a sampling:
  • A witness shall not bear falsies against thy neighbor."
  • "The hookeries and massageries…the whole world is turning into a regular Sodom and Glocca Morra."
  • "Last will and tentacle…"
  • "Patience is a virgin." (virtue)
  • "A menstrual show." (minstrel)
  • "Buy one of them battery operated transvestite radios."
  • "A woman doctor is only good for women’s problems…like your groinocology."
  • "I ain’t a man of carnival instinctuals like you."
  • "Irene Lorenzo, Queen of the Women’s Lubrication Movement."
  • "In her elastic stockings, next to her very close veins."
  • "In closing, I’d like to say Molotov!" (Mazel Tov)
And these are from Bush:
  • "The law I sign today directs new funds... to the task of collecting vital intelligence... on weapons of mass production." 
  • "We need an energy bill that encourages consumption." 
  • "We cannot let terrorists and rogue nations hold this nation hostile or hold our allies hostile."
  • "I don't have to accept their tenants. I was trying to convince those college students to accept my tenants. And I reject any labeling me because I happened to go to the university."(tenets)
  • "We've got hundreds of sites to exploit, looking for the chemical and biological weapons that we know Saddam Hussein had prior to our entrance into Iraq."(explore)

Funny right? Or scary. Either way, I thought I'd share a few of the ones I used to hear as a physical therapist: 

  • Plantar fascists- I know plantar fasciitis is very painful but as bad as Nazis? 
  • Medium meniscus- Do you want pepperoni on the medium meniscus? Medial meniscus is the inside(medial meaning towards the middle)portion of your knee. 
  • Old Timers or All Timers-This is actually very common and kinda makes sense but the word is Alzheimer's. 
  • Vertical- I do treat dizziness or vertigo. Not quite sure how to treat vertical though... maybe just by tipping you over? Oh wait, that's kinda how I treat vertigo.

As I'm writing this, it kinda feels like I'm being condescending so I want to clarify that I'm probably one of the worst malaprops out there. Not sure? Here are a few of the words I mess up: 

  • Pronunciation (pruh-nuhn-see-ey-shuhn) noun- I'll quote the dictionary for this one: the act or result of producing the sounds of speech, including articulation, stress and intonation, often with reference to some standard of correctness or acceptability. 
      Danny's pronunciation: proh-noun-see-ey-shuhn. It's not a good thing when you can't pronounce pronunciation. If that's the case you may be putting the wrong  emphasis on the wrong syllable. 
  • Expedite-(ek-spi-dahyt) verb- to speed up or hasten. 
       Danny's pronunciation: ek-speed-iate- Apparently I was trying to put the emphasis on speed. 
  • Self-deprecating-(self- dep-ri-key-ting) verb- to belittle oneself. 
      Danny's pronunciation: self- dih-pree-shee-eyt-ing - actually a very similar meaning if you use depreciating instead of deprecating but nonetheless not the word I was meaning to use. 
  • Surreptitious(sur-uhp-tish-uhs) adj- acting in a stealth way. 
    Danny's pronunciation: sur-rip-it-tus)
  • Latin(lat-n) noun- a language not spoken except in some churches
     Danny's pronunciation: lad-in. Apparently it should have stayed unspoken. 

See! I make them all the time. Except when I'm trying. Then I cannot think of any funny ones... So I am good at malapropisms but bad at puns. Oh well.

Until next time,


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