Malapropisms Hat

When I was a student back in the early 1980s I lived in digs with an extraordinary family, the Johnsons. The closest I can get to describing what they were like without going into details is The Simpsons.

Early on, I noticed that the husband (whom I shall call R, so as not to embarrass him) and the wife (L, ditto) were regular generators of malapropisms. It wasn't just they that did it: I remember A, L's mother, pointing at a camp TV presenter and announcing gravely "That man is a homo sapien", for example. However, R and (especially) L were in a league of their own. The difference was that I could say to A, "No, we're all homo sapiens! I'm a homo spaien, you're a homo sapien..." then, after watching the mounting horror in her face, add, "you mean he's a homosexual". With R and L when I pointed out their mistakes they would just stare blankly; as far as they were concerned, what they'd said was correct! There lies a source of malapropisms rare and special...

All the following are 100% genuine malapropisms, as said by R and L at various times in my hearing. There were hundreds more, but these are the ones I made a note of at the time.

  • L: I love that TV programme, The Biotic Man.

  • L (Watching a town crier on TV): Olé! Olé!

  • L: I love listening to that London Cynthia Orchestra.

  • R & L: Angular Television
    [It's "Anglia Television", the regional station that serves Colchester. I pointed out this mistake many times, but they never once pronounced it "Anglia", always "Angular"].

  • L (pointing at a pendant): Isn't that an expensive pendulum round that man's neck?

  • L: I know him! He used to ride horses in a radio.

  • L: She has to go to hospital for a GCE.
    [L said this about R's mother within a minute of my meeting them. She meant an Electro-Encephalogram (EEG) rather than a General Certificate of Education (GCE)].

  • L: He had to use a fire distinguisher.
    [My personal favourite].

  • L: They threw him through a crate glass window.

  • L: We'll have to go to the laundryette.

  • R (reading a letter out loud): "We forget to inform you...".

  • L: He's possessed by her.

  • L: I love the smell of coronations.

  • R: No respect to you, but students have it easy.
    [That would be "disrespect", R...].

  • L: He works on an oil rig in the National Arab Embassy.
    [She meant the United Arab Emirates].

  • R (laughing): They're a bunch of chamaeleons at work...

  • L: He's erupted the entire family!

  • R: Their lounge is on the second storage.

  • L: It's so hot I could fake out.

  • R: She has a part-time job with Age Consent.
    [That's Age Concern...].

  • R (Describing their son's poor report for English at school): He doesn't write very good competitions.

  • L: Ooh! He's got into that lady's bougeois!

  • L: The rector's giving Holy Community.

Copyright © Richard A. Bartle (
26th August :\webdes~1\ malap.htm