Lately, I find myself grasping at bras. A play on words? Or a Freudian conundrum?
What do we call these slip or not so slip-ups? Why are they so memorable?
Slip-ups happen all the time, but what are they and what do they mean? In the headline above, the idiom associated with my reference is "Grasping At Straws," and if you substitute straws with bras, it creates an interesting visual. There are several classifications regarding these mishaps, and the most common is called a malapropism. These are defined as, mistakingly misusing a word in place of another similar-sounding word, often with hilarious results.
Malapropisms or Yogiisms?
Malapropisms have been around forever, and I'm assuming they even began back when there were cavemen and women. I can’t provide an example, but I think you can visualize that one. Yogi Berra was not only known for his play on the field but infamously known for his play on words, or Yogiisms. Some of his still resonate today and here are a few of his examples, more of which can be found at age-af-the-sage.org:
- Always go to other people's funerals; otherwise, they won't go to yours. (Yogi Berra)
- When You Come to a Fork in the Road, Take It! (Yogi Berra)
- It ain't over till it's over. (Yogi Berra)
Not quite Yogi Berra but a yogi nonetheless
Although malapropisms are the most common form of misplaced words, there are other categories as well. Mondegreens are the most easily recognized. There is no doubt we are all guilty of misplaced lyrics, but some of us are worse than others. Here is a list of other isms for your reference and are more thoroughly defined at Literary Devices;
- Spoonerism: Switching the vowels or consonants in two words, either unintentionally as an error or intentionally for humorous purposes. For example: "I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy."
- Eggcorn: An intentional substitution of a similar-sounding word that still makes sense. For example, "old-timer’s disease” for “Alzheimer’s disease” or “mating name” for “maiden name.”
- Freudian Slip: An unintentional utterance that may reveal something in the speaker's unconscious. For example, if someone wanted to say, "I really love chocolate," but instead said, "I really love Charlie," this might hint at an unconscious desire.
- Mondegreen: A misheard word or words in song lyrics. For example, some might mishear Elton John’s “Hold me closer, tiny dancer” as “Hold me closer, Tony Danza.”
"Bathroom on the right" and "Arms without a leg"
No, Those Really Are The Lyrics
Here are a couple of my favorite examples of Mondegreens:
- “There’s a bathroom on the right” better know from CCR’s classic Bad Moon Rising. The mistaken lyrics are, "There's a bad moon on the rise."
- One of my all-time favorites, delivered from my own mother, is; “Arms Without a Leg,” replacing Billy Idol's "Eyes Without a Face."
Although Billy Idol tended to mumble his lyrics, I think it's fair to say that he wouldn't think to use "Arm without a Leg' in place of "Eyes without a face." However, in my mother's defense, the title to the song doesn't make a whole lot of sense either.
Memories For A Lifetime
Why are these important? Personally, I think they provide great insight into a person’s personality. Granted, some individuals have conditions, like dyslexia or other learning disabilities, where this is an actual reality. I want to be very clear, I am not poking fun at these scenarios. I have been surrounded by very quick whited people my entire life and have been exposed to these nuances for a long time. They provide some of the most lasting memories, and I still pull them out of my memory bank today.
I had a good friend from college, Chris, who I'm still friends with today, that was a sensei of word manipulation. Off the top of my head, I could rattle off twenty, but this one is my favorite, and I still use it today. In Pittsburgh, where I was raised, we have a famous sandwich shop called Primanti Brothers (pronounced prah-mant-eeez). Every time we would take a trip from college to my home, he would belt out, "When are we going to Her Panties?" Now was this a Freudian Slip or a play on words? It doesn't matter. What matters is that after 20 years, I still use that today, and it makes me laugh every time.
The Final Curd
So you ask, how is this directly relatable to what we are doing as a brand? Slip-ups occur in everyday situations, whether you are singing in the car, on a hike, or exhausted after a long day at the crag. As a brand, we embrace these types of anomalies because they provide not only lasting memories but hilarious conversation pieces. Also, we are in a tight spot right now, so a blog about the 10 best places to have picnic lunch would be salt on a wound.
When I'm bored and have nothing to do, I think of word and sentence manipulations to help pass the time. You should give it a shot sometime. You may be shocked to see how long you have spent trying to come up with something unique. So, the next time your friend is belting out lyrics to Jimi Hendrix and says, “excuse me while I kiss this guy,” instead of “excuse me while I kiss the sky,” thank them for making you smile.