Wednesday, March 26, 2008

March Madness Malaprops

At NCAA tournament time, we celebrate "student-athaletes" (the extra "a" seems to sound more scholarly, so announcers add it).
No one wants to be "lacksadaisical" on defense. Network announcers who say this may assume that the word refers to someone who lacks "adaisicality," which sounds like something akin to "gumption." Actually, the word "lackadaisical" comes from "lackaday," an alteration and shortening of the archaic interjection "alack the day," used to express regret.

Of course we all get "flustrated" with the officiating -- something between flustered and frustrated -- but in the end it's always a "mute" point. (It should be "moot" [deprived of practical relevance; no longer at issue], not "mute" [unable to speak].)

And we all enjoy the interesting "antidotes" gathered by courtside reporters, especially when they include "self-depreciating" comments from the coaches. (Should be "anecdotes" and "self-deprecating.")

Lackaday! It all makes us yearn for the days of the St. Louis Cardinal pitcher and radio announcer Dizzy Dean, who once described a base runner, having "slud" into a base, as standing there "cool and confidential."

Malapropisms, or malaprops (both are correct) are the misapplications of words, usually humorous, specifically, the use of words sounding somewhat like the ones intended but ludicrously wrong in their contexts. The words come from a character, Mrs. Malaprop, in a 1775 R.B. Sheridan comedy.

Yogi-isms are apparently-nonsensical-but-often-sagacious malapropisms created by longtime Yankee catcher and manager Yogi Berra, who once received an honorarium check for a speech made out to "Bearer" and asked of his host, "You've known me all these years and still don't know how to spell my name?"

No comments: