Thursday, July 02, 2009

Dashibles and other words

Ya know? If this wind gets any stronger, my undies are going to end up in New Zealand by sundown! Well... I'm jus' sayin'. Having your dashibles flying around horizontal on a washing line is no easy sight.

Dashibles? Ah, I feel a story coming on. The word comes from my maternal grandmother who had a friend that constantly seemed to be in a state of deshabille, a French word for - according to my Oxford Dictionary - "being only partly or not carefully dressed". My grandmother commented that her friend was always running around in her dashibles.

I've heard others, including fire distinguishers (are they people who can tell you what type of fire?), the telling of funny antedotes (I'm guessing it's a story with a cure), people who are bespeckled (no doubt because everyone who wears spectacles - bespectacled - also have spots), emeritious (pron. emerishus) professors (learned online fellows from Mauritius, perhaps?)

And none of these are misheard, but repeated. Unfortunately one is trying to become a writer. No names, but if I got a hold of the manuscript, I'd be having a few words with the alleged writer and making copious notes. Especially about posting an excerpt with such a glaring - if humorous - malapropism to a website.

If a writer is unsure of a word, well, there's the dictionary. Use it and check. Or if you intend to post it somewhere online, get someone to look the work over. There is nothing worse than a serious excerpt being laughed at because you've used the wrong word.

And yes, I've done it myself, but never (at least, I don't think I have) posted it. In one of my works, I had a character hit someone with a clenched fish. Any fish out of water would be tense, but a clenched fist is more effective against a villain.

It is easy to do, which is why editing your work is so important. Deliberately creating a character that expresses themselves using malapropisms is fine; accidentally is not.

1 comment:

Jason said...

Ah, is that like libaries and sammiches? Both are things I hear pretty often.

Heh, I dunno, I bet even the pro's get those sometimes. Neil Gaiman says one of the laws of getting a book published is that when you first get it, you can turn to any random page and spot what may be the only typo in the entire book.