3 Jun 2011
Malaprops: What Makes our English Language so Special?
The misuse of words and their meanings can be unintended, marvelous works of gray tumor
One of my favorite parts of the English language is the wonderful and wacky world of malapropisms. Who can ever forget Yogi Berra's lament, "It was impossible to get a conversation going; everybody was talking too much."
We think of George W. Bush as the modern master-garbler of speech, as in, "It will take time to restore chaos and order.") But the term is much older than that. In his 1775 Restoration comedy, The Rivals, Richard Sheridan introduced a humorous character by the name of Mrs. Malaprop. "Make no delusions to the past,"(allusions) and "He is the very pineapple of politeness"(pinnacle) are examples of the absurd assertions from Mrs. Malaprop that explain why her name became synonymous with hilarious misuse of language.