Monday, July 11, 2011

"Self-depreciating" and other common malapropisms

From today's West Side Shopper-News, page C-2:

"[Former UT and NFL linebacker Mike] Stratton spoke with self-depreciating humor . . . "

Many people confuse the term "self-deprecating" with the malapropism "self-depreciating," which might more properly apply to a piece of self-aware farm machinery.

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.

We all hope that magazine articles are filled with interesting "antidotes" (should be "anecdotes").

A recent story in the Knoxville News Sentinel referred to a coach at an Southeastern Conference meeting making the only "descending" (should be "dissenting") vote against merging basketball divisions.

We often hear TV announcers refer to "lacksadaisical" play on defense. 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].)

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." [Linguistics professors like to point out that "slud" was the correct form of the past tense just a few hundred years ago.]

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?"

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