Friday, November 20, 2009

Lee’s Malapropish Tongue

Re: The Chocolate Cat Caper by JoAnna Carl

Lee McKinney has a problem. She has what she calls a ‘twisted tongue’. For example, she says things like:

‘financial sentiment’ (for financial settlement)
‘none of my busybody’ (for none of my business)
‘cardboard suspender’ (for cardboard dispenser)

The problem is very embarrassing and frustrating for Lee, although I bet author JoAnna Carl had some fun coming up with the phrases.

Lee likens the problem to a malaprop, which I recall learning about in my high school English class. Since that was many years ago, I thought I’d refresh my memory by going out to Wikipedia to look it up.

There is a character named Mrs. Malaprop in a play from Sheridan called “The Rivals”. She speaks this way, and so the term 'malaprop' was named for her. Here is one example from the play: "...she's as headstrong as an allegory on the banks of Nile." (i.e. alligator; Act III Scene III Line 195).

A malaprop means to substitute one word for a similar sounding word. The result is a non-sensical, and somewhat comic, phrase. My favorite one of Lee’s is ‘armadillo truffles’ (for amaretto truffles)!

In fact, on her website,
Ms. Carl says that Lee is a 'direct descendant of Mrs. Malaprop'.