This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Nuts and Bolts: Cutleryism.

Who hasn't occasionally looked for a place in a par cark?

Well, not anyone in the USA, I suppose, though I do hope that there the lovely and evocative larking pot gets the odd airing.

Dr Spooner, the Warden of New College, Oxford, doesn't seem to have made many spoonerisms, though he did claim to have delighted a large congregation by announcing the name of the next hymn as Kinquering kongs their titles take (instead of Conquering kings). 

The most interesting thing about this story is that, according to Douglas Hofstader's rather charming system, Dr Spooner's spoonerism isn't actually a spoonerism at all, but a kniferism.

A spoonerism, according to Hofstader, is when the initial sounds of two words are swopped, as in 'you will leave Oxford by the town drain!' (as Dr Spooner is supposed to have said but, sadly, didn't).
Swopping the middles of words Hofstader called kniferism (geddit?) of which my favourite example, heard in a news report many years ago and still making me giggle, is hypodeemic nurdles.

And then there's forkerism, which is, naturally, swopping the ends of words. This would change that useful person the Wadley barber into the waddler Barbie - presumably an obese special edition of the famously skinny doll.

Thing To Do Today: enjoy a good spoonerism.

If you're German then you'll probably be very good at this, as the Germans have a tradition of spoonerised poetry called Schüttelreime (shake rhymes).
And good for them!

1 comment:

  1. I love the idea of a 'larking pot'. It's fascinating, the differences between UK and US English. I suppose Shel Silverstein's book of verse, 'Where the Sidewalk Ends' wouldn't have sounded half so good as 'Where the Pavement Ends'... and in any case, the pavement in the US is the roadway itself.