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SPOONERISM: THE ELASTICITY OF WORDS

Today we’ll be talking about something really fun and interesting… spoonerism.

Spoonerism is the transposition of initial or other sounds of words, usually by accident, as in a blushing crow for a crushing blow, according to Dictionary.com.

Named after the British scholar Reverend William Archibald Spooner, who is known for making speech-slips of this kind, spoonerism is an inadvertent transposition of the sounds of two words – usually the initial sounds – especially such a transposition that turns out to produce an interesting or amusing result.

As it concerns us poets, literary Spoonerism is devised purposefully for amusement with the effect of the switching of sounds planned to meet a purpose. Here there is the deliberate switching of the initial consonants or groups of consonants (consonant clusters) of a pair of words so as to achieve an amusing ambiguity of meaning eg:

‘He’s a bunny fan’ instead of ‘he’s a funny man’ – switching ‘f’ and ‘m’
Or
‘I have a plaster man’ instead of ‘I have a master plan’ – switching ‘m’ and ‘p’.

Trust me, you’ll enjoy this interesting way of having fun with words, bending them to your pleasure – finding the elasticity of words.

You’ll discover that, if we put the sounds or syllables in words in a different order, the letters or words we switch may mean something else. This is the ‘pun fart’, or rather the ‘fun part’, quite simply the funny art of spoonerism.

What do you make of this strange conversation from a game of cards:

“I have a whore of farts” (four of hearts)
“I can only give you a clue of tubs.” (two of clubs)
“A spate of Aids will do!” (eight of spades)

And have fun decoding this hilarious text:

“You may try to get some ‘cop porn’, but I won’t follow your ‘mad banners’. You’d better find a ‘nosey cook’, if you go on with your ‘lack of pies’. Instead of lighting fires, I’ll ‘shake a ‘tower!

Check out some of the funniest Spoonerisms I found on FunWithWords.com:

  • Cat flap (Flat cap)
  • Sale of two titties (Tale of two cities)
  • Wave the sails (Save the whales)
  • Bad salad (Sad ballad)
  • Soap in your hole (Hope in your soul)
  • Plaster man (Master plan)
  • Beeping Sleauty (Sleeping Beauty)
  • Birthington’s washday (Washington’s Birthday)
  • Trail snacks (Snail tracks)
    Rental Deceptionist (Dental Receptionist)
  • Flock of bats (Block of flats)
    Chewing the doors (Doing the chores)
  • Tease my ears (Ease my tears)
  • A lack of pies (A pack of lies
  • It’s roaring with pain (It’s pouring with rain)
  • Ali Theeva and the Forty Babs (Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves)

Note that Spoonerism is a form of the much broader Metathesis  which is the re-arranging of sounds or syllables in a word, or of words in a sentence – switching of the order of sounds in pronunciation.

Compiled by Brigitte Poirson and Kukogho Iruesiri Samson

Credits:
Wikipedia: Spoonerism and Metathesis 
WiseGeek: What is Spoonerism
Fun With Words: Spoonerisms
Dictionary.com: Spoonerism

Author: Kukogho Iruesiri Samson

KIS, author of two poetry collections, ‘WHAT CAN WORDS DO?’ and ‘I SAID THESE WORDS’, is an award-winning Nigerian writer, photographer, and media professional with experience in journalism, PR, publishing and media management. In 2016, he was listed in Nigerian Writers Awards’ list of 100 MOST INFLUENTIAL NIGERIAN WRITERS UNDER 40. The same year 2016, he won the Nigerian Writer’s Award for ‘Best Poet In Nigeria 2015.’ he had also won the Orange Crush 1st Prize for Poetry in 2012.
He is the CEO of Words Rhymes & Rhythm LTD.

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