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Why every mother-in-law really is a woman Hitler: It's just one of the hilarious quirks of the English language revealed in a fascinating new book


By Dr Rod L. Evans (external - login to view)
22 August 2013
Daily Mail

English is full of wordplay, witticisms, puns and quirks.

Crossword puzzlers will be familiar with anagrams — words that mean something else when the letters are rearranged — but what about aptanagrams, eunonyms and portmanteau words?

In a fascinating new book, Dr Rod L. Evans celebrates our wonderful, weird and wildly inventive language.

APTANAGRAMS

Anagrams are a staple of all crossword setters. But how many of us have heard of aptanagrams?

These are anagrams that can be rearranged to form a particularly apt word, phrase or sentence:


Comedian Groucho Marx, pictured here in 1933, often used paraprosdokians as part of his act


A sentence of death — faces one at the end.
A shoplifter — has to pilfer.
A telephone girl — repeating hello.
Asteroid threats — disaster to Earth.
Astronomers — Moon starers.
Christmas — trims cash.
Clint Eastwood — Old West action.
Debit card — bad credit.
George W. Bush — he grew bogus.
Guinness draught — naughtiness drug.
Margaret Thatcher —–that great charmer.
Mother-in-law — woman Hitler
Osama Bin Laden — a bad man (no lies).
President Bush of the USA — a fresh one, but he’s stupid.
President Clinton of the USA — to copulate, he finds interns.

PARAPROSDOKIANS

The word paraprosdokian (from the Greek for ‘beyond expectation’) describes a figure of speech in which the second part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected and casts a new light on the first part.

They are sentences with ambushes, used for humorous effect. Groucho Marx often used them in his act:

- I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn’t it (Groucho Marx).

- I want to die peacefully in my sleep like my father, not screaming and terrified like his passengers (Bob Monkhouse).

- A modest man, who has much to be modest about (Tory MP Winston Churchill of Labour MP Clement Attlee).

- There will be a rain dance on Friday, weather permitting. (U.S. comedian Steven Wright).

- You can always count on Americans to do the right thing — after they’ve tried everything else (Winston Churchill).

- If at first you don’t succeed, don’t try skydiving (Anonymous).

- I once shot an elephant in my pyjamas. How he got into my pyjamas I don’t know (Groucho Marx).

- Why do the Americans choose from just two people to run for president — and 50 for Miss America? (Anonymous).

- Light travels faster than sound. That is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak (Anonymous).

- I asked God for a bike, but I know God doesn’t work that way. So I stole the bike and asked for forgiveness (Anonymous).

PARTISAN OXYMORA

An oxymoron is an expression that contains words or elements with opposite meanings, such as bittersweet.

Partisan oxymora are expressions that a cynical person might accuse of being a contradiction in terms, such as:


The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog

- Business ethics.
- Educational television.
- Military intelligence.
- Non-working mother.
- Postal service.
- Young Conservative.


PANGRAMS

A pangram is a sentence that uses every letter of the alphabet at least once.

They are often uses to test keyboards or develop new typefaces.

The most famous one is: ‘The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.’ Some other amusing examples include:

- Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs.

- The five boxing wizards jump quickly.

- Amazingly few discotheques provide jukeboxes.

- A quick-blowing zephyr vexes bold Jim.


Carol Macready as Mrs Malaprop for Compass Theatre Company's 2004 tour of the Rivals, the comedy character often mistakes words that sounds similar


MALAPROPISMS

This word comes from the name of the character Mrs Malaprop in English playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s comedy The Rivals.

She often mistakes words that sound similar, such as allegory for alligator. American baseball player Yogi Berra was prone to the odd malapropism. These are some of his gems:

- ‘It gets late early out here.’

- ‘The future ain’t what it used to be.’

- ‘It’s like deja vu all over again.’

- ‘You should never answer an anonymous letter.’

PORTMANTEAU WORDS

A portmanteau word is formed by combining two other words, such as smog (smoke and fog) or brunch (breakfast and lunch). Others include:

Affluenza — affluence and influenza (extreme materialism reflected in overworking and excessive debt).

Dorkumentary — dork and documentary (a documentary on dorky subjects such as science- fiction, computers or technology).

Doughmance — dough and romance (dating someone just for expensive gifts and lavish dates).

Fauxpology — faux and apology (an insincere apology).

Manscaping — man and landscaping (male hair removal).


MISNOMERS

This is a word or phrase that misleads the reader.

A famous example is Welsh Rabbit, which describes a cheese dish. The name arose from the belief that the Welsh couldn’t afford meat. And what’s more . . .

- Peanuts aren’t nuts; in fact, they’re legumes.

- The French poodle originated in Germany.

- French fries weren’t invented in France, but in Belgium.

- A jackrabbit is a hare.

- A Belgian hare is a rabbit.

- Bloodhounds are so named not because of their special ability to smell blood, but because they were the first breed of dog with blood or breeding records.

- Danish pastries aren’t from Denmark, but Austria.

- Hollandaise sauce is from France.



Word play: Where every mother-in-law is a woman Hitler and President Clinton 'finds interns'

- Great Danes are German.

- A horned toad is a lizard.

- Venetian blinds come from Japan.

- India ink is from China.

- Fireflies are beetles.

- A titmouse is a bird.

- The Canary Islands weren’t named after the birds but an extinct race of dogs (from the Latin canis) that roamed there. The bird is named after the islands.


EUNONYMS

A eunonym is a name that seems to fit its bearer perfectly. Also sometimes known as an aptronyn.

Sara Blizzard — BBC weather presenter.

Russell Brain — neurologist.


The combination of Usain Bolt's name and his status as an olympic gold medal sprinter makes gives him a eunonym ie a name which perfectly suits him

Usain Bolt — the Olympic gold medalist over 100m and 200m.

Margaret Court — tennis player.

Chip Beck — golfer.

Bob Rock — music producer.

Alto Reed — sax player.


EUNONYMOUS AUTHORS

William Battie: A Treatise On Madness.

Harry Belleville Eisberg: Fundamentals Of Arctic And Cold Weather Medicine And Dentistry.

Frank Finn: The Boy’s Own Aquarium.

G. A. Martini: Metabolic Changes Induced By Alcohol.

Jack Roy Strange: Abnormal Psychology: Understanding Behaviour Disorders.

Mary Twelveponies: There Are No Problem Horses, Only Problem Riders.

Claude Balls: Shy Men, Sex And Castrating Women.

Cyril Berry: Winemaking With Canned And Dried Fruits.

Edward H. Clinkscale: A Musical Offering.


NEOLOGISMS

These are newly coined words or expressions. The following list are expressions that have appeared in the past few years:

Baggervation: Irritated feeling you get at an airport when the other travellers have retrieved their luggage from the baggage carousel before you.

Beehacker: Beekeeper who uses digital technology to monitor and manage his hives.

Cheapuccino: Inexpensive, inferior cappuccino from a vending machine rather than a coffee shop.

Juvenoia: Baseless, exaggerated fear or paranoia that the internet and social trends are having negative effects on children.

Mouse potato: Someone who spends an excessive amount of time on a computer, an extension of couch potato.

Singlism: Discrimination against single people.

Smirting: Flirting while smoking outside a building.

Talking hairdo: TV journalist who is superficial or who values appearance over substance.


BUSINESS WORDPLAY

Many companies use witty phrases based on puns, malapropisms and double entendres (an ambiguous phrase that often involves a risque interpretation).

Gym: Merry Fitness and a Happy New Year!

Gynaecologist: Dr Jones, at your cervix.

New York restaurant: Customers who find our waitresses rude ought to see the manager.


Merry Fitness and a Happy New Year

Plastic surgeon: Hello. May we pick your nose?

Plumbing firm: We repair what your husband fixed.

Pizza restaurant: Seven days without pizza makes one weak.

Launderette: Automatic washing machines. Please remove all your clothes when the light goes out.

LAW FIRMS WITH FUNNY NAMES

Boring & Leach.
Bickers & Bickers.
Lawless & Lynch.
Payne & Fears.

AND FINALLY . . .




  • Domunyms identify people as being from a particular place. Those born in Tangiers in Morocco are known as Tangerines.
  • The late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s name could be spelt up to 112 different ways, including Muammar Al-Gathafi, Muammar al-Qadhafi, Mu’Ammar El Qathafi and Moammar Kazzafi.
  • Quenched is the longest one-syllable word in the English language beginning with Q.
  • Rupturewort - a herb with bright green leaves - is the longest word that can be typed using only the letters in the top row of a QWERTY keyboard.
  • United Arab Emirates: The longest name of a country consisting of alternating vowels and consonants.
  • Xysts: The longest one-syllable word beginning with X. It describes a tree-lined walkway.
  • Tyrannosaurus Lex: The Marvellous Book Of Palindromes, Anagrams and Other Delightful And Outrageous Wordplay by Rod L. Evans (Particular Books, 9.99).





Last edited by Blackleaf; Aug 22nd, 2013 at 07:57 AM..