Thursday, November 29, 2007

Pet Peeve: Pronounstitution

My Pet Peeve:

People who misfuse words.

Explanation: Yesterday, in an online chat, somebody made a snide remark about Ricky Williams' torn pectorial. Now, as far as I know, a pectorial should be a collection of photographs of men's chests. Why Ricky Williams has one, I have no idea, but the man smokes up a lot and did wear a wedding dress that one time, so I guess anything is possible.

As I thought about this, I realized that I have seen this phenomenon several times. Usually, it happens when somebody is reaching just outside of their vocabulary for a word. They don't quite get the word right, but they do manage to combine the word with another one, also slightly outside of their vocabulary. After a little stroll through my therannysaurus*, I have decided to call this phenomenon the misfuse of words. (This choice slightly edged out pronounstitution)

I can think of a few other examples of word misfuse. I was once told by somebody that a person had broken their tibula. I said "Wow, that's too bad," feeling for the poor guy - not only are his two lower leg bones fused together, but he managed to break them too! That just sucks.

Then, of course, there was Mike Tyson (Mike, if you're reading this, we at Jeremy's Status Message has nothing but the utmost respect for you) who once said, "I guess I'm gonna fade into Bolivian." I don't know much about South America, but I'm pretty sure he didn't plan on going there to be forgotten.

If you come up with any other examples of word misfuse, please feel free to post them as comments.

*I use a very big, very old thesaurus... with useless forelimbs.


Jack said...

Clair said This discussion is making my earglobes blush! I hope I don’t have a reclasps from reading this post.

Jack said...

A malapropism is the incorrect use of a word by substituting a similar-sounding word with different meaning, usually with comic effect.

A spoonerism is a play on words in which corresponding consonants, vowels, or morphemes are switched (see metathesis). It is named after the Reverend William Archibald Spooner (1844–1930), Warden of New College, Oxford, who was notoriously prone to this tendency.

While spoonerisms are commonly heard as slips of the tongue (sometimes spoonerised as tips of the slung), resulting from unintentionally getting one's words in a tangle, they are considered a form of pun when used purposely as a play on words, as here.

Pronounstitution needs a better defination.

Willie Y said...

A television newsperson said "convicted murderer had been declared "eligible for the death penalty." Aaah RIGHT! Finally made the short list.

The Good Jeremy said...

I had one I had posted on my blag before the copyright nazis made me stop posting Letters to the Editor.

"To take our sports away would indefinitely have a negative effect on our student body as a whole."


"I plan to use all of the power invested in me to reject this proposal."