I love language, playing around with it, learning new words and laughing at some of the ways we express ourselves. I have just realised that if you are deaf and/or hard of hearing then you must miss some of these fun things with language. One thing my husband and I play a lot is spoonerisms. Some of them don’t work but many are funny. (And it would be very difficult to represent and convey the humour of a spoonerism in sign language).
First of all, a spoonerism is where we either deliberately or accidentally switch consonants, vowels or morphemes within a group of words or a sentence. A spoonerism is named after Mr Spooner who was apparently prone for twisting his tongue and making lots of these verbal slip ups.
Some spoonerisms attributed to him are:
• "Three cheers for our queer old dean!" (dear old queen, referring to Queen Victoria)
• "Is it kisstomary to cuss the bride?" (customary to kiss)
• "The Lord is a shoving leopard." (a loving shepherd)
• "A blushing crow." (crushing blow)
• "A well-boiled icicle" (well-oiled bicycle)
• "You were fighting a liar in the quadrangle." (lighting a fire)
• "Is the bean dizzy?" (dean busy)
• "Someone is occupewing my pie. Please sew me to another sheet." (occupying my pew...show me to another seat)
• "You have hissed all my mystery lectures. You have tasted a whole worm. Please leave Oxford on the next town drain." (missed...history, wasted...term, down train
A newspaper column attributes this additional example to Spooner: "A nosey little cook." (cozy little nook). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spoonerism
A spoonerism can be an accident mis-saying when our tongue gets twisted in the words or a deliberate play on the words which often convey a dual meaning. My husband frequently says ‘the meeling is futual’ (feeling is mutual). It’s his favourite. A spoonerism can also be the switching of full words in a sentence.
People through the ages have had spoonerisms attributed to them and sometimes the same spoonerism is attributed to numerous people in history.
An example of a different kind of spoonerism is the clever twist on words in "I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy" which is attributed to WC Fields, Tom Waites, Dorothy Parker and even Dean Martin.
Books and plays have even been named using spoonerisms.
- The shaming of the Trew (the Taming of the Shrew)
- Runny Babbit: A billy sook (Bunny Rabbit: a Silly Book
A spoonerism may allow a person to say different words, while meaning others and therefore get through census. On radio one DJ called another a “shining wit” (whining s##t - interestingly even BellaOnline would not accept my article with the s##t word!) allowing him to curse the other without it being censored.
Now just to make sure the cutlery isn’t left out there are also kniferisms and forkerisms. In a kniferism the nuclei or the middle of the words get changed around 'hypodeemic nerdle' is an example of a kniferism. And in a forkerism the coda or end of the word gets switched. ‘All the world was thrilled by the marriage of the Duck and Doochess of Windsor’ (Examples from Wikipedia)
I guess my point is that we can have a lot of fun with language but if you can’t hear it well enough then you won’t understand or findthe humour.