Tuesday, April 10, 2007


Definition: the transposition of initial or other sounds of words, usually by accident and usually with comic effect. Named for Rev. William A. Spooner (1844-1930), warden of New College, Oxford, who was famous for such mistakes.

Examples of what one meant to say vs. what one said:
crushing blow vs. blushing crow
jelly beans vs. belly jeans
taking a shower vs. shaking a tower

I was talking to a friend on the phone this morning, and she had one of these accidental experiences. And, I explained that I do this from time to time. I know it happened just last week at church, but now I can't remember what I accidentally said. I DO know it happens more frequently, for some unknown reason, when I say particular phrases:

Hits and Misses
New York
Banana Nut Bread

I don't know why.

Talking about this today reminded me of the Andy Griffith Show. Whenever we stayed at Grandma and Grandpa Stremmel's house, it was pretty definite that we'd see at least one episode, if not two or three episodes, of the program. It was their favorite, and the cable stations - especially TBS - packed in multiple showings of the program each day. I can't estimate how many times I've seen certain ones, and it was especially funny to see Grandpa, Grandma, and Uncle Roger anticipate what was sure to happen next to Barney Fife or recite the exchange that was about to occur between characters. Well, in one of the episodes we like the most, Barney gives the governor a ticket (for illegal parking, I believe.) But, Barney unknowingly drinks spiked water from the water cooler (because Otis has been messing with it) and becomes rather bold in his inebriated state. When Andy speaks to him about the possible retaliation Barney might receive from the governor, Barney basically tells Andy that he's not worried about it and stands by his act as an officer of the law: "Tell the governor to put THAT in his smipe and poke it!" Dumb, but it still makes me laugh.


Anonymous said...

My best buddy in St. Louis talks like this quite often :-) Flannel Chipper (Channel Flipper) was one of her better ones. If I think of a few more I'll let you know!


Elizabeth said...

What is the difference between mild dyslexia and a spoonerism? I always attributed my mixing up the first letters of a series of words to be dyslexia; spoonerism is more fun...

strem said...

Laurie: Please tell your buddy that hers is a fantastic spoonerism!

Elizabeth: So, we're getting technical, eh? Well, my guess would be dyslexia would be the obstacle in *reading* the phrase and interchanging letters... while spoonerism is just *speaking* incorrectly by interchanging the letters or sounds. Somewhat similar, maybe.... but extremely different. Maybe Sister Liz can provide an extremely educated answer because of her expertise in speech pathology, therapy, auditory processing, etc.

strem said...

Dad couldn't log on to blogger for some reason, but he wanted to pass on a story that Archie Campbell from Hee Haw used to tell. Dad says that Victor Borge also used to recite this: Rindercella. A little long, but I'll just post it here.

Intro: Peacorn! Popnuts! Chewing Can! and Gumdy!....Have you ever heard about spoonerisms? Well, now let me tell you the story about Rindercella...

Once apon a time, in a coreign fountry, there lived a very geautiful birl; her name was Rindercella. Now, Rindercella lived with her mugly other and her two sad bisters. And in that same coreign fountry, there lived a very prandsom hince.

One day, the prandsom hince decided to have a bancy fall. He invited people from riles amound, especially the pich reople. But Rindercella could not go because all she had to wear were some old rirty dags. So she just cat fsdown and scried. She was a kitten there a scrien, when all of a sudden her gairy fodmother appeared. And she waived her wagic mand...and all of a sudden there appeared before her, a cig boach and hix white sorces to take her to the bancy fall. But now she said to Rindercella, "Rindercella, you must be home before nidmight, or I'll purn you into a tumpkin!"

So Rindercella went to the bancy fall, where she met the very prandsom hince, who she had been watchin through a widden hindow. She and the prandsom hince nanced all dight till nidmight...and they lell in fove. Suddenly, the mid clock struck night; Rindercella staced down the rairs, and just she beached the rottom, she slopped her dripper!

The next day, the prandsom hince went all over the coreign fountry looking for the geautiful birl who had slopped her dripper. He came to Rindercella's house. He tried it on Rendercella's mugly other...and it fidn't dit. He tried it on her two sigly usters...and it fidn't dit. He tried it on Rindercella...and it fid dit, it was exactly the sight rize!

The next day, Rindercella and the prandsom hince were married and they lived everly hafter happward.

Now, the moral of the story is this: If you ever loll in fove with a prandsom hince, be sure and slop your dripper!

Other Mother said...

One of our favorites is from the dear brother-in-law who said he took a leaceful grape over the fence! (graceful leap)

Chris said...

Last year on a bike ride with Lydia and her friend Shelly, we were riding on a wooded trail with roots all over the ground. It was quite a bouncy ride so I yelled back to them, "my bounce is biking!" (Should have said my bike is bouncing.) Happens even to the best of us! :-)

Elizabeth said...

Awh, poor rindercella.

That's really funny