Weekend Word Wrap: malapropisms

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As promised, today's edition of the Weekend Word Wrap is on "malapropisms"—a word not to be confused with Bushisms.

bush-generic2-ap150.jpgWhile George W. certainly has rattled off his fair share of them over the years ("We must always remember that all human beings begin life as a feces"), a Bushism shouldn't be mistaken for a malapropism, nor vice-versa. Very often you'll hear or read people using the the two interchangeably. The truth is, our president doesn't usually speak in malapropisms. His "manglement" of the language is so unique, it needs its own term. For instance, the following Bushisms are not malapropisms:

"I'm honored to shake the hand of a brave Iraqi citizen who had his hand cut off by Saddam Hussein."

"Oftentimes, we live in a processed world -- you know, people focus on the process and not results."

So what, then, is a malapropism? The word comes from one Mrs. Malaprop, who, in Richard Brinsley Sheridan's play called, The Rivals, unintentionally confused words that sounded similar "“ getting big laughs from audiences during 1775. The English word, malapropos, or "out of place," which Sheridan was playing on, comes from the French mal à propos, or "ill to purpose." (Notice the root "apropos" hiding in there.)

One of Mrs. Malaprop's more famous screw-ups goes like this: ""He is the very pineapple of politeness."

jwnp.jpgA more recent (and perhaps funnier) malapropism comes from the film Napoleon Dynamite. When a girl attempts to sell bracelets to Napoleon, he replies, "I already made, like, affinity of those at Scout Camp." (Lifted right out of the '80s!)

My favorite malapropism was heard years ago when I was stuck in a taxi during rush hour in midtown Manhattan. We were in stop-start traffic on Eighth Avenue and my driver turned to me and said, "If it's any constellation, Tenth Avenue isn't any better."

We'd love to hear some of your favorites, if you have 'em!

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August 11, 2006 - 5:16am
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