Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Paging Mrs. Malaprop!

As is so often the case, the comments on various articles and news items are at least as entertaining as the articles themselves. Here’s a new (to me) malapropism that I came upon in a comments section just this morning:

“Here is the crust of the problem...”

The author has some other problems, too, besides his crust—the apparent lack of a ? key on his keyboard, an inability to unravel the subtle nuances between your and youre, and so on—but none is as unique or interesting as the crust of his problem.

This looks like a job for Malaprop Man!

One wonders if the crux of the problem in such cases might not be hearing related. I read once that Norm Crosby, “King of the Malaprop,” came to his hilarious wordplay by virtue of an undiagnosed hearing problem that caused him, in childhood, to understand words almost correctly—drinking decapitated coffee, requesting a cold one from the beertender, and so on.

Sometimes, I know, it’s just a matter of misunderstanding a given expression or colloquialism. I knew a fellow in college who was wont to “get down to brass tactics”...and in the years since I’ve known probably half a dozen others who have shared his desire.

Not really a malapropism but still funny is the wildly off-base expression employed by a parish priest of my acquaintance several decades ago. Obviously he had come upon the expression “fly in the ointment,” but misunderstood “fly” to be the verb form. Thus it was that his homilies occasionally would refer to this or that action of Jesus that “flew in the ointment” of the religious leaders of the day. Makes me wonder if he knew what “ointment” is.

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