I know my speech and writing aren’t perfect. I’m as guilty as anyone of grammatical flubs. Sometimes I purposefully twist words, just because it tickles me. Even so, I cringe at misuse of the language.
I can’t take it when people pronounce the “t” in “often”. My skin crawls when they say:
◊ “Supposably” for “supposedly”
◊ “Fermiliar” for “familiar”
◊ “Realitor” for “realtor” . . . especially someone who works in the profession
◊ “Nuke-ya-ler” for “nuclear” . . . a certain former President comes to mind.
But some people (fictional and real) who verbally jitterbug and mix things up, endear themselves to me more with each abuse. In their cases, two in particular, it seems that what would otherwise be a negative personal brand attribute, is a positive one, because I want to hear more.
One of my favorites is bumbling, inept, but lovable Deputy Barney Fife, of the vintage Andy Griffith Show, who had a special brand of language mangling. Famous for his malapropisms and mixed metaphors spoken with great conviction and zeal, Barney provided a wealth of goodies I couldn’t get enough of.
I still love watching reruns of the show that feature Barney. Here is some of his best work:
◊ To him, someone with a strong urge had a “compellshun” to do the thing.
◊ Someone deeply intuitive had “extra sensitive perception”.
◊ Something that makes you feel better is “therapettic”.
◊ Someone who is inexperienced is “nave”.
◊ He opined that, “The kindness of mercy is not strained; it droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven.”
◊ Barney, telling a long story to Andy, said, “Andy, it was like a tale out of two cities!”
◊ When Andy asks for Floyd the barber’s help tracking down a clue, Barney said, “Don’t ask him, he’s as blind as an owl!”.
◊ Showing off his authority and aggrandizing his small town’s 2-cell jailhouse to little Opie and friends he cautioned, “Here at ‘the Rock,’ we have two basic rules. Memorize them so you can say them in your sleep. Rule One: Obey all rules!”
My Aunt Jeannie was another oblivious mangler, who was well-known and loved for her slip-ups. More than overlooking this fault, her blunders were a distinguishing and memorable characteristic. My family and I couldn’t get enough of them. Here’s a short list of some of her gems:
◊ She baked in a “confection” oven.
◊ She had friends in “Terry Hawk”, Indiana.
◊ When she visited them, she stayed at the “Marrionette” Hotel.
◊ She owned an “Electriclux” vacuum.
◊ She took a trip to “Alcapulco”.
◊ She took “Pepta Dismal” for a bad stomach.
◊ She would “mari-ah-nate” meat before cooking.
◊ She called those flakes in her hair “dandreth”.
◊ She took “Tylenaw” for a headache.
For a little diversion, take a look at Barney trying to recite the Preamble to the Constitution. Andy has to prompt him with every word.