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I am Perry Peterson, a retired auditor and tax accountant. My wife Valeta and I live along the front range of the beautiful Colorado Rocky Mountains.
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The Reverend William Archibald Spooner (pictured) was born in London in 1844. He was an albino and suffered defective eyesight and it is thought that this caused some of his verbal confusions which are now called "spoonerisms".
Spooner, who died in 1930, was an Anglican priest and scholar. He studied at New College, Oxford, before lecturing there for 60 years in history, philosophy and divinity.
William Spooner’s most noted verbal confusion was when he raised a toast to Queen Victoria intending to say “let us raise our glasses to the dear old Queen” the words came out “let us glaze our asses to the queer old Dean.”
Other examples of Mr. spooner’s verbal confusions are "it is kisstomary to cuss the bride" (...customary to kiss the bride).
“We’ll have the hags flung out” (...flags hung out).
“Mardon me padam, this pie is occupewed. Can I sew you to another sheet?” (...Pardon me, madam, this pew is occupied. Can I show you to another seat?).
Many years ago as a 10-year-old I would laugh and say I was going to shake a tower prior to taking a shower without knowing the ‘play on words’ had a name - spoonerism.
The oxymoron we like best is from the Peanuts comic strip when Charlie Brown says, “good grief.”
Here are a few more oxymorons we like - in no special order:
anticipating the unanticipated
The late Doris Nast Diede, my High School English teacher, deserved a medal. After much effort on her part, she finally taught me that spelling is not a creative art.
Actually, she also deserved a medal for teaching a very complex and ambiguous language. For instance, in what other language do people:
-recite a play and play a recital
-have noses that run and feet that smell
How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?
You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which:
-your house can burn up as it burns down,
-you fill in a form by filling it out, and
-an alarm goes off by going on.
If you have some odds and ends and then get rid of all but one, what do you call it?
If teachers taught, why don’t preachers praught?
If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?
Helpful means full of help and cheerful means full of cheer. Using the same logic, what does the word bashful mean?
Further evidence of a language out of control: There is no egg in eggplant and no ham in hamburger. Why isn’t hysterectomy called a HERterectomy? When a man gets a hernia, why is it not called a HISnia?
We take English for granted. However, if we explore its paradoxes, we find that:
-we drive on parkways and park on driveways.
-quicksand can work slowly.
-boxing rings are square.
-writers write but fingers don’t fing.
-we put garments in a suitcase and we put suits in a garment bag.
Why doesn’t Buick rhyme with quick?
Not convinced yet? Consider the following:
-I shed a tear when I saw the tear in the painting.
-He could lead if he could get the lead out.
-He decided to present the present because there is no time like the present.
-He did not object to the object.
-The Polish furniture needed polish.
-The insurance policy was invalid for the invalid.
-The buck does act differently when the does are present.
-After a number of injections my jaw became number.
-The fleeing dove dove into the bushes.
-The landfill was so full it had to refuse additional refuse.
-The garden was used to produce produce.
-The oarsmen had a row about how to row.
-They had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
-A bass was painted on a bass drum.
-To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
-He was too close to the door to close it.
The English language was not invented by computers. It was invented by people and reflects the creativity of the human race, which is not a race at all. That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible yet when the lights are out, they are invisible.
Through the promotion of education, laws, human rights, and language, Noah Webster helped to create a national identity for a young nation. At the time, however, Webster was mocked and scorned for challenging the King's English.
About 60 percent of the country spoke English at the time, while others spoke German, Swedish and Dutch. Even among English speakers, regional dialects were strong.
A teacher after the Revolutionary War, Webster believed that Americans should have their own textbooks rather than rely on English books.
He created a speller that taught students to read, spell and pronounce words and traveled around the country to promote the book.
The language of the new nation was in a state of flux when Webster said “we're going to speak American English.”
Webster's speller made it easier for children to learn English by spelling words more like they sounded.
The French version of words like “centre” became “center” and he dropped the British “u” in words like “colour” and the redundant “k” in “musick” and other words.
This image is an early portrait of Noah Webster circa 1798 provided by Yale University.
The announcement of his first dictionary came in 1800. It was in the back of a Connecticut newspaper just above a farmer's reward for a stray cow. A man named Noah Webster was proposing the first comprehensive “dictionary of the American language.”
His dictionary, and earlier spellers and readers widely used in schools, would help a new nation achieve unity and cultural independence at a time when most were focused on political freedom.
Though he accomplished much more during his life, Webster is best remembered for authoring two of America’s most influential books, the Blue Back Speller and the American Dictionary.
These books helped children grow up to be Americans as opposed to British subjects.
A British academic says English spelling is “truly atrosious.”
Report at the link below says:
Embaressed by yor spelling? Never you mind. Fed up with his students' complete inability to spell common English correctly, a British academic has suggested it may be time to accept "variant spellings" as legitimate.
Rather than grammarians getting in a huff about "argument" being spelled "arguement" or "opportunity" as "opertunity", why not accept anything that's phonetically (fonetickly anyone?) correct as long as it can be understood?
To kickstart his proposal, Smith suggested 10 common misspellings that should immediately be accepted into the pantheon of variants, including "ignor", "occured", "thier", "truely", "speach" and "twelth" (it should be "twelfth").
Then of course there are words like "misspelt" (often spelled "mispelt"), not to mention "varient", a commonly used variant of "variant".
This all sounds good to me. I’ve been treating spelling as a “creative art” for years.
Internet gamers rule as Merriam-Webster announces the word of the year.
The word is: “w00t."
"W00t," a hybrid of letters and numbers used by gamers as an exclamation of happiness or triumph, topped all other terms in the Springfield-based dictionary publisher's online poll for the word that best sums up 2007.
Merriam-Webster's president, John Morse, said "w00t" was an ideal choice because it blends whimsy and new technology.
Gamers commonly substitute numbers and symbols for the letters they resemble, Morse says, creating what they call "l33t speak" _ that's "leet" when spoken, short for "elite" to the rest of the world.