(This column was first
published in the July 30, 2001 Buffalo News.)
Just a month ago English
teachers across the country finished correcting final themes and many
will sent additional examples to Richard Lederer to add to hiscollection
of fractured language. His two books, Anguished English (Wyrick
& Company, 1987) and The Bride of Anguished English (St.
Martin's Press, 2000), are worth many laughs.
I've been interested in these kinds of malapropisms,
misspellings, misplaced modifiers and confused metaphors ever since one
of my university students wrote that his idea should be "taken for
I offer a few of Lederer's collected examples that
- Comets...are thought to be ruminants from
of the universe.
- Headline: Is There a Ring of Debris around Uranus?
- In 1957, Eugene O'Neill won a Pullet
Thanksgiving it is a tradition in our family to shoot peasants.
- News dispatch: The crime bill would reinstate the death penalty for
certain violent crimes: assassinating the President; hijacking an
airliner; and murdering a government poultry inspector.
- Can anybody explain why Kiwi International Airlines is named after a
bird that cannot fly?
DISEASE AND MEDICINE
- The pistol of a flower is its only
- I don't want to cast asparagus at my opponent!
- Wanted: Unmarried girls to pick fresh fruit and produce.
- Seen in a Pennsylvania cemetery: Persons are prohibited from picking
flowers from any but their own graves.
- Sign outside a gift shop: Live Artificial Trees.
- World War II ended on VD day.
- The blood circulates through the body by flowing down one leg and up
- The patient has no past history of suicides.
- Louis Pasteur discovered a cure for rabbis.
- The patient experienced mood swings because she suffered from PBS.
- A brand claim: Every rectal thermometer made by Q-Tip is personally
- A squid has ten to twelve testicles that hang
down from its
- Headline: Yellow Perch Decline to be Studied.
GEOLOGY AND GEOGRAPHY
- Get rid of aunts: Zap does the job in 24
- Seen in a Michigan restaurant: The early bird gets the worm; special
shoppers' luncheon before 11 a.m.
- In the Olympic games the
reward to the
victor was a coral wreath.
- Thomas Jefferson, a Virgin, was a signer of the Declaration of
- Headline: Experts Increase Probability of a Big Quake in
PHYSICS AND CHEMISTRY
- Artificial insemination is when the farmer
does it to the
cow and not the bull.
- Queen Elizabeth's navy went out and defeated the Spanish Armadillo.
- A skunk was found wandering among the phews of a local church.
- Lost: small apricot poodle; reward; neutered; like one of the family.
- Dog for sale: eats anything and is fond of children.
- Song line: Chipmunks roasting on an open fire.
- The Civil War was started by John Brown, a rabbit abolitionist.
- Headline: 4-H Girls Win Prizes for Fat Calves.
- Vacuums are nothings; we only
to let them know that we know they are there.
- Water is composed of two gins, oxygin and hydrogin; oxygin is pure
gin, hydrogin is gin and water.
- Wind is like air, only pushier.
- Seen on a Tennessee highway: Take notice: when this sign is under
water, this road is impassable.
- Headline: Typhoon Rips Cemetery, Hundreds Dead.
- Rural life is lived mostly in the country.
- Porter...lectured on "Destructive Pests;" a large number were
- Headline: Sterilization Solves Problems for Pets, Owners.
- Many dead animals in the past changed into fossils while others
preferred to be oil.
- Genetics explains why you look like your father and if you don't, why
We had better be able to laugh at these examples for
most of us
have contributed to them.-- Gerry