You can file this one under educational trivia, but it may come in handy when you need some small talk for a cocktail party.
Yesterday I ran into Nancy Wax at the drug store who casually mentioned that she enjoyed my recent column on "malapropisms". Huh? Mala-what? I’d never even heard the word and if I wrote a column on it I must have been writing in my sleep which would explain some of my more mnemonic, or should I say moronic column ideas. I think she was referring to a recent diatribe on infamous mispronunciations like “mameogram.”
Since Nancy and I are the same age and went to the same university for a time, I’m thinking I must have cut class the day our teacher told us about poor Mrs. Malaprop who is responsible for coining the word. She was a character in an 18th century play who was notorious for misusing words. She said things like "He is the very pineapple of politeness," when she meant to say “pinnacle of politeness.” The practice is widely used today in sitcoms (on purpose to get a laugh) or by politicians (never on purpose and which get bigger laughs and is covered ad nauseam by the media.)
Four centuries later, a “malapropism” is the accepted practice of innocently using an incorrect word in place of one that is similar in pronunciation. It can be quite humorous if you’re not the one committing the nefarious corruption of the English language.
Nancy reported she once heard a public speaker declare "Ladies’ Home Journal had quoted him so frequently he should have received a free prescription.” Another time a lady declared "ole so and so had lost so much weight he had become down right emancipated." Emaciated might have been the better selection but hey, if I could lose a bunch of weight that would mean I was finally emancipated from my beloved Goo Goo Clusters. (Side note for other fans of Goo Goo Clusters which I thought were extinct: I discovered them on the shelves at the Dollar General.) But I digress.
Nancy’s husband Charlie remembers a story in the local newspaper about an escapee from the county jail. “It wasn’t my fault and they weren’t going to make me the “escape” goat,” declared the jailor.
Kay Riddell, a friend from Tupelo who worked for BancorpSouth said customers often call it BanCROPSouth and that the main office is located at 1 Mississippi Plasma. A Jackson reader, Huleeta Harris noted that her mother recently got lost in Jackson. She called her daughter and told her she was “lost somewhere on Fornification Street” which I thought would be an intriguing title for my upcoming novel.
“And don’t you just hate it when athaletes cover up with an aferghan,” wrote Grathan Christian.
My final warning to keep you out of trouble: Never eat a crushed Asian instead of a crustacean, and having only one wife is monogamy, not monotony.