A spoonerism is considered a spoken mistake where someone transposes the initial sounds or letters of at least two words.
When I started writing this column, I had a flashback to an earlier time when my “doungest yaughter” and I thought we had invented spoonerisms. We hadn’t given our new language a name, but we had fun saying nonsensical words as we “cried to treate” funny and witty words to fool others.
One Sunday morning, our minister started his sermon with the same nonsensical words that my daughter and I thought that we had fashioned. Shortly into his dramatic oration, he said he was using spoonerisms. Well, he could have inserted three fists in my mouth when my jaw hit the floor.
Now that I am well learned about spoonerisms, I know that they have been used by comedians for many years. Comedians also use lingo or slang that is specific terminology used by certain groups of people. Recently, I found it interesting that the word “witchu” is slang for “with you” and “yahurrd” is short for “are you aware”.
Back in the day when citizen band radios were found in more cars, the term “Evil Knievel” was coined to refer to a police officer on a motorcycle. When most police cars had blue dome shaped lights that rotated, the words “gumball machine” referred to a police vehicle. A “county-mounty” meant county sheriff or deputy and a “local yokel” meant a city police officer.
Protologism is a term that American literary theorist Mikhail Epstein invented in the early 2000s. It refers to a new word that has not been widely accepted into our language. It will change into a neologism right after is has been published. With that in mind, and this column appearing in print, I hope that you have a fantabulous day. “Fantabulous” is a word that is a combination of “fantastic” and “fabulous”, and it is neither a protologism nor a slang. It is just a made-up word that I sometimes use to notice someone’s reaction.
Trying to be my silly self, I once combined the first names of two nieces named Ashley and Tara. I told them it was shorter and easier if I just called them both “Tashley”. Little did I know that one niece was terribly offended when I called her Tashley.
New words and sayings have a way of violating our vocabulary. Years ago, when we were in a bar, my wife asked me to get her a glass of “Cab” (cabernet sauvignon). The bartender must have thought I was one egg short of a dozen when I asked for a glass of Cabriolet.
The word “bad” always meant something unfavorable until the younger generation started using it in the 1980s to mean something good. Police officers “nab” or catch suspects just like baseball players “nab” runners when tagging them out. The word “cop” is a slang word that means police officer. It does not refer to copper uniform buttons, a copper badge, or constable on patrol. It also doesn’t stand for chief of police. “Copping out” can be used by someone to mean they’re not going somewhere. “Copping to” can mean someone admitting their guilt for doing something.
In 1974, my chief received a very complimentary letter from a woman who was likely in her 80s. In the letter, she wrote about the very nice young “cop” that came to her traffic accident and immediately checked on her welfare and that of her grandchildren. It was a very routine accident investigation, but the letter spoke volumes about her attitude and her sincerity. Not only did the letter offer me a delightful compliment, it was a defining moment in my career. What I thought was bad, the word “cop” was now becoming “rad,” because the word “rad” later became a slang word that meant something was good.
The internet brought us common slang words or acronyms like LOL (laughing out loud). I might tell someone to kiss my foot and they laugh, but they might become offended if the same words were uttered by another person. Most people aren’t comforted by hearing a thousand constructive words after hearing one ill-chosen word, and a person’s character lies in how they choose.
Communication is one of the most difficult things we do as humans. Many words are said out of anger and often with regret. Be fantabulous, choose wisely and don’t make spoken mistakes, because it is not necessary to eat unspoken words.