dichotomy / anomaly

Charles Doyle cdoyle at UGA.EDU
Wed Apr 12 16:32:56 UTC 2006

"Prosodic malapropisms" are interesting.

There was a mentally retarded boy in the neighborhood who
used to spend time at my house.  Late one afternoon my wife
asked (hintingly), "Johnny, what time do your and your
mother eat supper?"  Johnny replied, "Oh, it rathers."

What astonished me, when I heard it, was how intelligible
that sentence was, even (almost) normal-sounding!


---- Original message ----
>Date: Tue, 11 Apr 2006 14:08:38 -0700
>From: "Arnold M. Zwicky" <zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU>
>Subject: Re: word finding
>---------------------- Information from the mail header ----
>Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-
>Poster:       "Arnold M. Zwicky" <zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU>
>Subject:      Re: word finding
>On Apr 9, 2006, at 11:02 AM, sagehen wrote:
>>  arnold writes..........
>>> 3.  and then an odd (to me) word choice, from MTV's Real
World gay
>>> guy Tyler, interviewed in Instinct magazine, April 2006,
p. 21: "I
>>> was the most athletic person in the house, which is kind
of a
>>> dichotomy to have the most athetic guy being the gay
>>  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
>> Maybe he was thinking "anomaly,"  if he supposes it to be
odd for a
>> gay to
>> be athletic.
>ah, "anomaly" is a good suggestion.  odd word choices tend
to make my
>mind turn to jelly, so that i can't think of what *i* might
say in
>these circumstances.
>"anomaly" isn't as phonologically similar to "dichotomy" as
>classical malapropisms are to their (missed) targets, but
>prosodically they're a perfect match, and they have the
same stressed
>vowel and final segment, so that's not so bad.  and of
course they're
>both serious academic-sounding words.
>but i doubt that Tyler himself supposes it's odd for a gay
guy to be
>athletic.  almost surely, though, he believes -- as do i --
that a
>lot of other people think so.

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