August 01, 2018

Fet footish: a spoonerism caught in the wild (thanks Gogglebox!)

Spoonerisms are awesome linguistic anomalies. It's a speech error you make when you accidentally swap two sounds around in words that are next to or near each other and end up saying words that make zero sense (or maybe the sound-swap results in words that actually still make sense but far from the intended meaning).

Some examples? When I searched online for examples of spoonerisms, they were mostly examples where the sound-swap resulted in a sentence that still made sense but resulted in an unintended meaning or examples that were curated artificially. Not much looked like spoonerisms that were genuine speech errors.

We'd all be familiar with spoonerisms and can probably remember hearing them or recall one slipping out of our own mouths. But, in my experience at least, they're rare. Maybe once I year I'd remember hearing one... maybe every couple of years I'd remember doing one accidentally? Would it be about the same for you?

The apparent rarity of genuine spoonerisms is why I love this short Gogglebox clip featuring Angie and Yvie so much. I've publicly espoused my love of Gogglebox as linguistic data quite a few times, and this clip adds a new element to that. A spoonerism caught in the wild! Check it out:





It is just so great to see the sequence of events unfold in the clip:
  • The spoonerism coming out of Angie's mouth ("fet footish" instead of "foot fetish") without any hint of realisation
  • Yvie's subtle reaction when noticing the speech error and her ability to instantly give Angie rope to hang herself with by 'innocently' repeating it back to her
  • Angie still not realising the error even after hearing it said back to her and continuing on in ignorant bliss
  • Yvie's absolutely glorious wheeze-laugh (if someone can tell me how that would be transcribed in a careful linguistic transcription, I'd love to know!)
  • Yvie's more clearly signalled repetition of the spoonerism which finally alerts Angie that a speech error has been made
  • Angie still not really realising what the error was and trying to self-correct but failing ("oh, a feet footish... wait...") 
  • Then Angie finally getting corrected by Yvie and them both having a good laugh, culminating in Angie's full cackle (at 0:31) when it all finally dawns on her what has just unfolded.

So yeah, a spoonerism caught in the wild. I absolutely love it, and I'm pretty sure it's quite rare: a fantastic beast but where to find it... Gogglebox, that's where!




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