Jan 18, 2013

SPOONERISM - a type of Verbal Somersault!

Spoonerisms are words or phrases in which letters or syllables get swapped. This often happens accidentally in slips of the tongue (or tips of the slung as Spoonerisms are often affectionately called! For example:

A lack of pies (A Pack of Lies)
Wave the sails (Save the whales) 


Spoonerisms are named after the Reverend William Archibald Spooner (1844-1930) who was the Dean and Warden of New College in Oxford, England. He is reputed to have made these verbal slips frequently. He is famous for his verbal somersaults, that would turn a well - oiled bicycle into a well boiled icicle Big Grin

Born in 1844 in London, W. A. Spooner became an Anglican priest and a scholar. During a 60-year association with Oxford University, he lectured in history, philosophy, and divinity. From 1876 to 1889, he served as a Dean, and from 1903 to 1924 as Warden, or president.

Spooner was an albino, small, with a pink face, poor eyesight, and a head too large for his body. His reputation was that of a genial, kindly, hospitable man. He seems also to have been something of an absent-minded professor. He once invited a faculty member to tea "to welcome our new archaeology Fellow."
"But, sir," the man replied, "I am our new archaeology Fellow."
"Never mind," Spooner said, "Come all the same." - [ Source - reproduced from February 1995 edition of Reader's Digest Magazine.]

Reverend Spooner's tendency to get words and sounds crossed up could happen at any time, but especially when he was agitated. He reprimanded one student for "fighting a liar in the quadrangle" and another who "hissed my mystery lecture." To the latter he added in disgust, "You have tasted two worms." [ For more laughs - go here for some original spoonersaults!! ]

Spoonerisms are phrases, sentences, or words in language with swapped sounds. Usually this happens by accident, particularly if you're speaking fast. Come and wook out of the lindow is an example.

Of course, there are many millions of possible Spoonerisms, but those which are of most interest (mainly for their amusement value) are the ones in which the Spoonerism makes sense as well as the original phrase, like Go and shake a tower

Since Spoonerisms are phonetic transpositions, it is not so much the letters which are swapped as the sounds themselves. Transposing initial consonants in the speed of light gives us leed of spight which is clearly meaningless when written, but phonetically it becomes the lead of spite.

It is not restricted simply to the transposition of individual sounds; whole words or large parts of words may be swapped: to gap the bridge to bridge the gap.

SPOONERISM in Literature:
In the 1930s and 1940s, F. Chase Taylor – under his pseudonym of Colonel Stoopnagle – wrote many spoonerism fairy tales which appeared both in print and on his radio show. The original ones were printed in the Saturday Evening Post and he eventually published a collection of the stories in 1946 – a book which is now sadly out of print and much sought after.

Though if you are interested, you can enjoy them here :
Pinderella & The Cince, 
Beeping Sleauty
Ali Theeva & The Forty Babs

Some more Tairy Fales :D can be found here:
The Pea Little Thrigs
The Goldybear & The Three Locks

Rude Spoonerism

(Positively Red Face comes with a disclaimer, which everybody should please read.)

More Fun Spoonerisms
The Shog and his Dadow!

(You can try clicking on the other links too)


Wise words for Jan 18, 2013:

"Many people, other than the authors, contribute to the making of a book, from the first person who had the bright idea of alphabetic writing through the inventor of movable type to the lumberjacks who felled the trees that were pulped for its printing. It is not customary to acknowledge the trees themselves, though their commitment is total."
Forsyth and Rada, from "Machine Learning"