The main difference between a spoonerism and a malapropism is that a spoonerism occurs when corresponding sounds in two words are interchanged, whereas a malapropism occurs when two similar sounding words are interchanged.
In brief, spoonerism and malapropism are effects that involve the substitution of certain linguistic items. The difference between a spoonerism and a malapropism is that spoonerism involves the substitution of sounds, but malapropism involves the substitution of words. Moreover, both are capable of creating a humorous effect.
Key Areas Covered
1. What is Spoonerism
– Definition, Characteristics, Examples
2. What is Malapropism
– Definition, Characteristics, Examples
3. What are the Similarities Between a Spoonerism and a Malapropism
– Outline of Common Features
4. What is the Difference Between a Spoonerism and a Malapropism
– Comparison of Key Differences
Cramtonism, Dogberryism, Malapropism, Metaphasis, Spoonerism
What is Spoonerism
A spoonerism is the interchange of corresponding sounds; especially, consonants, vowels, or morphemes, between two words in a phrase. Furthermore, a spoonerism can be natural or artificial. Natural spoonerism is a slip of the tongue resulting from unintentionally getting one’s words in a tangle. Intentional spoonerism, on the other hand, is a type of wordplay that often results in whimsical and nonsensical words and phrases. For example, “tease my ears” for “ease my tears”.
The scientific name for spoonerism is metaphasis. Moreover, the term spoonerism originates from William Archibald Spooner, who tended to make these slips of the tongue. There are many examples of spoonerisms which are attributed to Spooner.
Examples of Spoonerism
Wave the sails – Save the whales
It is kistomary to cuss the bride. – It’s customary to kiss the bride.
Three cheers for our queer old dean! – Three cheers for our dear old Queen!
You were fighting a liar in the quadrangle. – You were lighting a fire in the quadrangle.
A lack of pies – A pack of lies
Would you like a nasal hut? – would you like a hazel nut?
It’s roaring with pain – It’s pouring with rain
In literature, authors use spoonerism deliberately to create a humorous effect.
What is Malapropism
Malapropism, also known as dogberryism or cramtonism, is the interchange of similar-sounding words. In other words, this is the deliberate use of an incorrect word in place of a word with a similar sound. Thus, malapropism results in a nonsensical, often humorous utterance.
Furthermore, the term malapropism actually comes from the character of Mrs. Malaprop in Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s 1775 play The Rival. And, this name Mrs Malaprop comes from French mal a propos, which means inappropriate. Dogberryism, which is a synonym of malapropism, also comes from a character name – Dogberry from Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.
Furthermore, malapropism is a phenomenon we can also observe in our day to day life. In fact, many people tend to use incorrect words in place of similar-sounding words, resulting in some hilarious examples:
“He was a man of great statue.”—Thomas Menino (statue – stature)
“The police are not here to create disorder; they’re here to preserve disorder.” – Richard Daley (disorder – order)
Moreover, the followings are some examples of Mrs. Malaprop’s dialogues in Sheridan’s Rival:
“Sure, if I reprehend anything in this world it is the use of my oracular tongue, and a nice derangement of epitaphs!” (reprehend instead of apprehend, oracular instead of vernacular, epitaphs instead of epithets)
“illiterate him quite from your memory” (instead of obliterate)
“she’s as headstrong as an allegory on the banks of the Nile” (instead of alligator).
Similarities Between a Spoonerism and a Malapropism
- Basically, spoonerism and malapropism involve the substitution of certain linguistic items.
- Moreover, both are used in literature to create a humorous or comic effect.
Difference Between a Spoonerism and a Malapropism
Spoonerism occurs when corresponding sounds (consonants, vowels or morphemes) in two words are interchanged, whereas a malapropism occurs when two similar sounding words are interchanged.
Moreover, spoonerism involves the substitution of sounds, whereas malapropism involves the substitution of words.
“A lack of pies” (a pack of lies) is an example of spoonerism, while “illiterate him quite from your memory” (illiterate for obliterate) is an example of malapropism.
In conclusion, both, the spoonerism and malapropism, are language effects that involve the substitution of certain linguistic items. But, the main difference between a spoonerism and a malapropism is that spoonerism involves the substation of sounds, whereas malapropism involves the substitution of words.
1. “William Archibald Spooner Vanity Fair 1898-04-21” By Leslie Ward – Published in Vanity Fair, 21 April 1898, as “Men of the Day” Number 711. Downloaded here (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “The_Rivals_143” By The Huntington (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr