Tips of the Slung?

There is perhaps quite a difference between the malapropism (confusing words that are quite similar in sound and spelling but quite different in meaning) and metathesis (a technical term in linguistics relating to the transposition of letters and syllable in a word, almost always in speech).  The word “Spoonerism” has come into popular usage for the latter in honor and memory of the Reverend William Archibald Spooner (1844-1930) who became legendary for his gaffes or metatheses.  You are probably familiar with some of these.  You may also suspect that sometimes the Don may have used this device deliberately,  particularly after he became notorious,  maybe even famous, for doing so.  Here are some examples:                        (1) referring to the monarch Victoria as “our queer old dean”  (2) using “blushing crow” for “crushing blow,”  (3)  and this minor masterpiece as he was hectoring a troublesome student:  “You have hissed all of my mystery lectures .  You have tasted a whole worm.  Please leave Oxford on the next town drain.”

I’m not sure how to classify the following; it is not really a metathesis.  But it does illustrate how some bits of knowledge can be only partially digested.  The obituary of colorful former New Mexico Governor Bruce King (three separate terms non-consecutive) in today’s daily observes that he was gregarious,  always going from table to table to shake hands and make small talk.  But, the story goes on,  “He was also known for his malapropisms, once telling a lawmaker that the lawmaker’s proposal could ‘open up a whole box of Pandoras.'”

Of late, I’ve become quite fond of the long-running series NCIS,  which features quite an array of colorful characters.  They seem to nourish themselves on jabbing each other with verbal needles.                                                                       One of my favorites among these is Israeli Moussad-trained Ziva David,  played by Cote de Pablo.  One of Ziva’s traits (though she knows well five languages and is somewhat conversant in two or three others) is her mangling of slang or phrasal idioms.  Some examples:  (1) Speaking to her supervisor at NCIS HQ,  “You are a broken tape,  Gibbs.”  To McGee about his frowzy hair:  “It’s sticking up like a porcuswine . . . . Oh, wrong words . . . . a porcu . . . pig?”  (3)  “I feel like a donkey’s butt.”  McGee: “Donkey’s butt?”  Tony: “I think she meant horse’s ass, McGee.”  And one I picked up at my last viewing:  “He’s been working like a platypus.”  Tony:  “Don’t you mean ‘beaver'”?  [Thanks for the assist from an online source.]

Hope you are off to a good start this week!



7 Responses to “Tips of the Slung?”

  1. Jeff Thompson Says:

    Have you noticed Ziva does not use contractions in her conversation. I have wondered whether that has something to do with the way foreign nationals learn the English language, since contractions I presume developed as an early slang.

  2. Tammy Stephens Says:

    We have lost connection to our eldersRaymond J. Rundus

    Some 15 or more years ago, Rep. Charlie Rose addressed an audience at a function in the downtown Pembroke area. Rose opened his speech with a story about a preacher.

    It seems this preacher was becoming jaded about using the same sermon topics and references. He felt his congregation was also. So he asked the members of the church to drop off a topic into a container the ushers were passing around. The next Sunday, promised the preacher, he would pull one topic from the container and preach a sermon on that topic.

    The next Sunday, with a good bit of fanfare, the preacher reached into the container and pulled out a topic. It was only one word: “Constipation.” Reading the word aloud to his audience several times as he stalled for inspiration, the preacher raised both arms and proclaimed that his text for that day would come from the Old Testament: “And Moses took two tablets and went up into the hills alone.”

    I doubt that this preacher continued this practice.

    I will choose a different word for my homily today: “Reverence.” It so happens that this is the title of a book published in 2001 and written by classicist and philosophy professor Paul Woodruff, most recently chair of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Texas. I nodded my head vigorously as I read his first few sentences:

    “Reverence is an ancient virtue that survives among us in half-forgotten patterns of civility, in moments of inarticulate awe, and in nostalgia . . . . Right now it has no place in secular discussions of ethics or political theory. Even more surprisingly, reverence is missing from modern discussions of the ancient cultures that prized it.”

    We have in our culture lost connections with some of the essential values of previous cultures, most especially perhaps, appreciation of – and concern – about our neighbors, our elders, the wiser of those among us.

    We seldom listen, and not for long, and thus we seldom are gaining much enduring knowledge or comforting wisdom. We sit in our plastic and fiber cocoons moving at 60 or more miles per hour with a cell phone to our ear. We store our personal trove of music in our MP3s, and we establish relationships to others remotely by “chatting with” our Facebook and MySpace “friends.”

    Three uncles who were part of my life, Uncle Joe, Uncle Frank and Uncle Bill, all had an impact on my adolescence and adulthood. I worked quite closely with my paternal uncle, Joe Rundus, as he and my father were partners in farming their parents’ homestead.

    Uncle Joe and I often ran the hay baler together; he was much more of a handyman than Dad, and his large hands were able to operate most any machine and hold tightly most any needed tool. He was patient, and, as we watched a meteor shower one summer evening lying on our backs in my grandparents’ yard, I learned for the first time that if I looked to the heavens, I might see something both beautiful and mysterious.

    My four nephews and the niece seem remote, uninterested for the most part in their paternal uncle’s (and his wife’s, their aunt’s) welfare and whereabouts. Nor, for that matter, in their three cousins, our children. That my brother’s offspring are all the children of divorce doubtless has some claim on their feelings toward us. Yet, we have had no role in those matters, and we have sought to reach out to them – until disinterest led to discouragement.

    The “Mythopoetic Man’s Movement” in our time has sought to reestablish the primacy of elders for the security and sanctity of the family as well as for the education of adolescents and young adults. One example of another effort to reach out and strengthen men within primarily the Christian faith is the “PromiseKeepers” movement. My brother and my nephews have been quite involved in this trend.

    On another level, I have revered and learned much from a poet and grass roots philosopher, Minnesotan Robert Bly, both for his wisdom and his storytelling gifts, as he seeks to stiffen the spines and harden the “soft souls” of today’s youth. Bly’s 1990 retelling of a Grimm fable, “Iron John: A Book About Men,” is worth careful reading by today’s young men.

    And, for sure, as an “Uncle” to all our young men, he continues to keep workin’ on it.

    Raymond J. Rundus is a professor emeritus at UNC-Pembroke. He has lived in Cypress Lakes since 1985 and is former president of the Cypress Lakes Men’s Golf Association. He can be reached at

  3. Tammy Stephens Says:

    You go Raymond!! Très bon ! !

  4. Raymond Rundus Says:

    Thanks for posting my “Sandspur” column from yesterday in the “Comments,” Tammy.
    You are a clever one.
    Ava and Tory (her mother) arrive tomorrow afternoon. Ava wants to “go fishing” at Mazarick Park sometime during their stay. I will give you a heads-up about this, but I may need your cell phone # in order to call you via the mobile route.

  5. Tammy Stephens Says:

    Sounds like fun, I just sent it to you! Thanks!!

  6. perfect acai review Says:

    Man I love NCIS. Tony is soo funny!

  7. acai berry side effects Says:

    Luke has put on a little weight! But he was really funny in that Idiotocricy movie… What was that called again?

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