You probably expect that we can discover meaning in anything, since all we do is sit around and read the dictionary. Well, here’s a test: can we uncover something meaningful even in the goofiest situation? You be the judge.
Justin Bieber, the 16-year-old pop singer whose charisma results in the pandemonium of screaming teenagers at shopping malls, is a bit of an obsession on Twitter. People who love him, as well as people who love to hate him, post so many messages featuring the heartthrob that he consistently appears on Twitter’s list of the most popular (trending) topics.
One of Twitter’s peculiar customs involves switching the first letters of a person’s first and last names and tweeting the results. For example, the erstwhile singer Nick Jonas becomes “Jick Nonas.” And at this moment “Bustin Drew Jieber” is the No.1 topic on Twitter.
There’s a technical term for this phenomenon. Spoonerism is “the transposition of the initial consonants or consonant clusters of a pair of words.” A silly name for a silly practice, but it honors Reverend William Archibald Spooner, an official at Oxford University who was infamous for these slips of the tongue. While a spoonerism can be an accident, a relative of the Freudian slip (or parapraxis), it’s often used for humor. Too many spoonerisms verge on becoming malapropisms, “an act or habit of misusing words ridiculously, esp. by the confusion of words that are similar in sound.”
One of the more infamous moments in the history of malapropism occured recently when political celebrity Sarah Palin tweeted the non-word “refudiate.” See what we, and 100s of others, had to say about refudiate here.
What’s your favorite spoonerism? Share it below, and yank thou mery vuch.