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    LOL Punditcats

    Meghan McCain, daughter of a former presidential candidate and hapless political commentator, pulled off a marvelous malapropism on MSBC.  The Obamas, she said, deserve “an emoticon of privacy.” OMG! They absolutely do!!! 

    malapropism (MAL-a-prop-ism) or acyrologia(a-keer-o-LO-gia), the fortunate mix-up.

    The malapropism is an eponym named for the addlebrained literary character, Mrs. Malaprop.  But credit the Greeks for coining the figure two and a half millennia before.  The acyrologia (“unauthorized speech”) swaps a word with a like-sounding but fortuitously wrong substitute.

    The ideal screwup achieves a higher addled wisdom. Props to you, Ms. M! But it’lll take you many years to achieve the addled wisdom-ness of Yogi Berra

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    Reader Comments (6)

    What was she trying to say?
    January 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRachel Adinado
    Modicum! LOL
    January 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFigaro
    Oxford English disagree with Figaro on the etymology of this excellent word. Oxford English (via Wikipedia) says the earliest known use of malapropism was in 1630 and was derived from the French: "mal à propos."

    I expect your full resignation on my desk in the morning.
    January 11, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermarco
    I happen to have the Oxford English dictionary next to me. It cites the first recorded use of the word in 1849, when Charlotte Bronte used it in a novel. She was probably eponymizing the immortal Mrs. Malaprop, who first appeared in 1775 in Richard Brinsley Sheridan's hit play, "The Rivals."

    It's easy to confuse "malapropism" with "malapropos," a term used in the 16th and 17th centuries to mean "awkward manners."

    But the confusion seems to be yours, not Wikipedia's. I just checked the entry and it backs my story.

    A written apology and a bottle of wine will suffice.

    January 11, 2012 | Registered CommenterFigaro
    You called me on my half-assed research. Looks like we'll have to call it a draw....

    All right, maybe not a draw. How about a 40/60 split? I was 40 percent right and you were 60 percent right.

    All right, I pretty much lost... Shit! That's OK: it's not like my self-esteem is tangled up in my need to be right all the time. I mean, that'd be pathetic, right?
    January 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarco
    I claim there to be a sliver of truth in Marco's claim, wrong though it was. Sheridan almost surely named the character in reference to the word "malapropos."

    Also, the Wikipedia article states that the earliest use of "malaprop" in the linguistic sense came from Lord Byron as early as 1814. They cite only the OED, following a footnote on "malapropos" in the 2008 edition. That predates Charlotte Bronte's birth by 2 years. Byron's influence can be seen in some of Bronte's works. So if it's accurate, it is quite likely Bronte obtained the usage from Byron, simply changing the form of the word to reflect the direct reference.

    All things considered, Bronte could have been more original and used "Dogberryism," as Shakespeare used the technique long before Sheridan. I guess it just doesn't sound as eloquent.
    September 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCliff T.

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