7. Pangrams, Malapropisms, & Mondegreens

Posted: 2013 年 11 月 07 日 in Logology
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A pangram is a sentence that uses every letter of the alphabet at least once, that is, a holoalphabetic sentence. Practically, pangrams are often used to display typefaces, test equipment, and develop skills in handwriting, keyboarding, and calligraphy. For instance, “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

Perfect pangram (every lettler of the alphabet appears only once):

Cwm fjord-bank glyphs vext quiz.

Imperfect pangram (one or more letters are repeated):

  1. Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs.

  2. A quick blowing zephyr vexes bold Jim.

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malapropism refers to the mistaken use of a word in place of a similar-sounding one, often with an amusing effect. Etymologically, the word malapropism can be traced back to Mrs. Malaprop, a character in Richard Sheridan’s play The Rivals. She often mistakes words for words that sounded like them, such as allegory and alligator.

Common malapropisms

  1. bare [bear] in mind

  2. child progeny [prodigy]

  3. civil serpent [servant]

  4. … had to evaporate [evacuate] the neighborhood

  5. … was given an old tomato [ultimatum]: adjust or leave

Malapropisms in mistranslations

  1. It is forbidden to enter a woman even a foreigner if dressed as a man. (Bangkok, temple)

  2. We take your bags and sen them in all directions. (Copenhagen, airport)

  3. To stop the drip, turn cock to right. (Finland, washroom)

  4. You are invited to take advantage of the chambermaid. (Japan, hotel)

  5. Please leave your values at the front desk. (Paris, hotel)

  6. Specialist in women and other diseases. (Rome, doctor’s office)

  7. Our wines leave you nothing to hope for. (Switzerland, menu)

  8. Because of the impropriety of entertaining guests of the opposite sex in the bedroom, it is suggested that the lobby be used for this purpose. (Zurich, hotel)

  9. Would you like to ride on your own ass? (Thailand, ad)

  10. Special cocktails for the ladies with nuts. (Tokyo, bar)

Exercise: What is wrong with the following malapropisms?

  1. The future ain’t what it used to be.

  2. We’re not attempting to circumcise the rules.

  3. I want all the kid to copulate me.

  4. My sister is having a baby, and I don’t know if I’m going to be an aunt or an uncle.

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A mondegreen has been called an aural malapropism, a misunderstood or misinterpreted word or phrase in such a way as to give it a new meaning.

  1. When Bob Dylan offered marijuana to the Beatles, he was surprised that they had not tried it before; he had misheard the lyric “I can’t hide” in “I Want to Hold Your Hand” as “I get high,” which was part of lyric in another famous Beatles song.

  2. A leading nutritionist on Good Morning America was heard (or misheard) as saying, “The average American will gain forty-seven pounds during the holidays,” when the actual prediction was “four to seven pounds.”

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