Category Archives: Language

Language – fractured

Here’s more of the nonsense I started yesterday.  Today’s the end.  From a San Diego Union-Tribune story1/7/02.  Found on resumes.  “OBJECTIVE:  I’m very good on the phone and have patients to work with difficult customers.”  “SPECIAL SKILLS:  Music wrritter.”

In 12/14/01, from a book of mangled moments.  “History, after all, is nothing more than ‘the behind of the present’…This gives incites from the anals of the past.”

From a Dear Abby column, No Date.  A lady wrote that the obituary had the wrong age of her deceased mother.  Should she inform the paper?  Abby replied, “it’s better to leave bad enough alone.”  She offered some “corrected” mistakes as an example.  Here’s one.  (Monday) “FOR SALE” – R.D. Jones has one sewing machine for sale.  Phone… after 7 p.m. and ask for Mrs. Kelly who lives with him cheap.”  (Tuesday) in correction, “We regret have erred in R.D. Jones’ ad yesterday.  It should have read:  One sewing machine for sale.  Cheap.  Phone…and ask for Mrs. Kelly who loves with him.”  The Thursday edition included a reply from R.D. Jones himself.  He denied having a sewing machine for sale—he had SMASHED it.  He had not been having an affair with Mrs. Kelly.  She HAD been his housekeeper, but quit after the mistaken ads ran.

Sportscaster Bob Starr explained, “So Williams strikes out into a double play.  And that’s one away.  San Diego Union, 7/12/93

From Ann Landers, San Diego Union 1/24/97.  Answers to a Bible test.  Who was Noah’s wife?  Joan of Ark.  What was Lot’s wife?  A pillar of salt by day and a ball of fire by night.  What is the seventh commandment?  Thou shalt not admit adultery.  Who were the epistles?  Wives of the apostles.

There’s plenty more, but as Bugs Bunny used to say, “That’s all folks.”

Language – on the lighter side

Malaprops in language are named after Mrs. Malaprop, a French stage character from 1775.  They consist of a misuse of words in a sentence.  For example, Mrs. Malaprop, in the comedy “The Rivals”, made the following statements.  “She’s as headstrong as an allegory on the banks of the Nile.”  “Illiterate him, I say, from your memory.”  “…I should have her instructed in geometry, that she might know something of the contagious countries.”

Richard Lederer, who writes a weekly column on Language in the San Diego Union-Tribune, included a quiz on malapropisms.  He wanted readers to identify the right word in a number of mangled sentences.  Let’s pass part of the quiz to you.

  1. I am privileged to speak at this millstone in the history of the college.
  2. I don’t want to cast asparagus at my opponent.
  3. Who do you think you are, some kind of hexagon of virtue?
  4. The deceased was a vicarious reader.
  5. We have to deal seriously with this offense as a detergent to others. U-T, 5/16/15

Speaking can be dangerous to language.  That’s one reason a preacher should write everything he wants to say.  He’s much likelier to say it right if he repeats what he’s written.  Otherwise, he isn’t protected from mis-speaking in off-the-cuff remarks.