William Archibald Spooner 1844 – 1930


William Archibald Spooner is forever locked into history because the linguistic phenomenon known as a “spoonerism” is named after him. A spoonerism involves the accidental (or sometimes intentional) swapping of letters, words, or vowels in a sentence – for example: “Go and shake a tower” (meaning “go and take a shower”).

Spooner was a professor at Oxford and he became so famous for his spoonerisms that people would attend his lectures just to hear him make a mistake. He was not pleased about the great publicity that surrounded him but as he neared death his attitude softened and he gave interviews to the press. Spooner not only got his words wrong: he once wrote to a fellow professor to ask him to come immediately to help solve a problem. At the end of the letter he added a post-script that the matter had been resolved and he needn’t come.

Some spoonerisms attributed to Spooner are:

«Mardon me padam, this pie is occupewed. » — Pardon me, madam, this pew is occupied.

Can I sew you to another sheet?” — Can I show you to another seat?

“Let us glaze our asses to the queer old Dean” — Let us raise our glasses to the dear old Queen.

“When our boys come home from France, we’ll have the hags flung out” — When our boys come home from France, we’ll have the flags hung out.

«Is it kisstomary to cuss the bride?» — Is it customary to kiss the bride?

«The Lord is a shoving leopard.» — The Lord is a loving shepherd.

«A blushing crow.» — crushing blow.

«A well-boiled icicle» — A well-oiled bicycle.

«You were fighting a liar in the quadrangle.» — You were lighting a fire in the quadrangle.

«Is the bean dizzy?» — Is the Dean busy?

«You have hissed all my mystery lectures. You have tasted a whole worm. Please leave Oxford on the next town drain.» — You have missed all my history lectures. You have wasted a whole term. Please leave Oxford on the next down train.

Accidental [æksɪˈdentl] случайный.

Intentional [ɪnˈtenʃnəl] намеренный, преднамеренный, умышленный.

Pew [pjuː] церковная скамья.

Glaze [gleɪz] застеклить, покрыть глазурью.

Queer [kwɪə] странный, причудливый.

Hag[hæg] старая карга, ведьма.

Kisstomary — несуществующее слово, звучащее примерно как «целовательно».

Cuss [kʌs] ругаться.

Shoving [ʃʌvıñ] толкающий.

Blushing crow [ˈblʌʃɪŋ krəʊ] краснеющая ворона.

Crushing blow [ˈkrʌʃɪŋ bləʊ] сокрушительный удар.

Well-boiled icicle — хорошо проваренная сосулька.

Well-oiled bicycle — хорошо смазанный велосипед.

Quadrangle [ˈkwɒdræŋgl] четырехугольник.

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