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6 Spoonerisms (and Other Twists of the Tongue)

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Remember when you accidentally said, “Let me see your sheet!” instead of “Let me show your seat!” at one of your events. How embarrassed you were about this and probably even now while thinking of it. Well, before you get yourself drenched all over again in sweat from the embarrassment, let me remind you how normal this is!

Not just healthy, but this also has a place in the English dictionary and has a name given to it! Such lip-slips are called Spoonerisms. They are words and phrases whose first letters or syllables are swapped or interchanged accidentally, and the outcome turns out to super funny!

This is a verbal mistake or error, which is quite common among people. It usually occurs because, while we speak and think what to say simultaneously, the coordination between our brain and mouth may go haywire, causing the tips of the slung! Oops.. Slips of the tongues!

Spoonerisms were invented by Reverend William Archibald Spooner, whose famous slips of speech have now been converted into Spoonerisms. He was known for his absent-mindedness and mixing up of syllables, which added a comic effect. Later on, more were invented and are under extensive usage, intentionally, though, to add an essence of humor in writings. So thanks to Mr. Spooner, for we now have an innovative way of covering up one of the most delightful English errors.

While there are thousands of spoonerisms available, let’s sail you through 6 of the most ones.

  • Tinkering Kong, their titles take-Despite the numerous spoonerisms Dr. Rev had created, this is the only one he admits. While he stood in the pulpit of Oxford to pronounce a hymn, he read it as ‘Kinkering Kongs their titles take’ instead of ‘Conquering Kings their titles take’. 
  • Runny Babbit: A Billy Sook- This is a children’s book written by Shel Silverstein, which is full of several spoonerisms in a rhyming verse that adds an exciting element to the book and is sure to crack even the toughest of readers!
  • Three cheers for our queer old dean! – Now, this is also one of the spoonerisms attributed to Dr. Rev and is hilarious when you hear of it. This was while raising his toast to Queen Victoria, where he said, “Three cheers for our queer old dean” instead of “Three cheers for our dear old queen!”
  • The weight of rages- In a lecture, instead of saying, “The rate of wages will press hard upon the employer,” Reverend declared, “The weight of rages will press hard upon the employer.” And that again leads to this entire audience to laugh insanely. The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations (third edition, 1979) lists only this as a substantiated spoonerism.
  • Don’t pet the sweaty things- Now this one is probably the best spoony- advice given which says, “Don’t sweat the petty things, and don’t pet the sweaty things” presented by George Carlin. The first part means not to get anxious about small things in life when we have greater things to worry about, and these petty things can ruin our very being. And when we spoonerism, the words’ Sweat’ and ‘Petty’ lead to the second part, which in fact should make you think of how apt it is. Because what is the use of clinging onto the worries of our life when we have so much around!
  • Rindercella- This is also a priceless way in which spoonerisms have been used. The famous fairytale, Cinderella, has been written again to bring out an altogether different version of it by many people like Matthew Goldman, Ken Iverson, Hee Haw, etc., and is a must to read. Not just Cinderella, but many other fairy tales have also been re-written, including The Beeping Sleauty, Little Ride Hooding Red, The Bree Tears, etc. and are known as the Spoonerism Fairy Tales.

So these were just a few spoonerisms from a considerable world of it. 

Albeit unintentionally, but Dr. Reverend has given to the English language, a few words it would always cherish. Of all numerous others over the web, only ‘The Kinkering Kongs’ and ‘The weight of the rages’ are authenticated as uttered by him and rest, which enhanced his reputation, were actually by mischievous undergraduates of Oxford. The latter spread a wholesome of invented spoonerisms. Not only this you can also give play your shot at word unscrambling, refer to this website and I am sure you won’t be disappointed.

By now, it is pretty apparent how hilarious these are, but there’s never just one side to anything we see. Not only the fun but, spoonerisms also tell us that there is always something beautiful about things that might not seem perfect. How can the technically incorrect items still be a reason for a hearty laugh? And, if you had a smile while reading this and have been wondering how this is possible, well, then we need to thank Dr. Reverend for this discovery!


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