malaprop amongst the flowers

Arnold M. Zwicky zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Thu Apr 29 20:54:35 UTC 2004

while googling on "Zwicky Lederer", to see if my Prescriptivism and
Usage website files (for the courses i'm teaching this quarter) have
gotten into the system (the answer seems to be no), i discovered a
review of spencer & zwicky, Morphological Theory, that i hadn't seen
before.  on, the *only* review there, by someone billed as
"verafides, a Real, Live Linguist".  (verafides also has a list of
favorite books in linguistics, and s&z gets in there too.)

well, it's a bouquet of flowers for andy and me (and our many
contributors).  this is immensely gratifying, of course.  and, as a
bonus, there's a malaprop.  from the review:

<five stars> What a pointless review this is about to be...

You know why nobody has ever reviewed this book on Amazon?  Because
shoppers interested in a gigantic collection of academic papers on
morphological theory are already AWARE of what it is, and don't need to
be told about it.  And anyone else will never, in fact, look at this
review.  So it's entirely a bizarre anachronism -- a review that nobody
will read, that has nothing useful to say.

This is, of course, a wonderful compilation of papers on morphology.
It''s chocked full of data, and tons of careful analysis...

[more praise]

But you probably already know this.  If you didn't, you wouldn't be
looking at this book -- you'd be off digging up a used copy of "M is
for Mush-for-Brains" by Sue Grafton-Higgins Clark.  And then you
wouldn't have any clue what I'm talking about, and probably too busy
being led astray by William Safire or Richard Lederer to bother trying
to find out...


i left the last part in so you can see why this came up in a "Zwicky
Lederer" search.  (in another review, verafides  *savages* ehrlich &
lederer, The Highly Selective Dictionary For The Extraordinarily

my interest was piqued (or, as some say, peaked, or peeked) by the word
"anachronism", which certainly isn't the right  one for the job
verafides used it for.  "anomaly", maybe?  (malaprops tend to set of
the tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon, alas.)

yes, i was dubious about "chocked full" too.  google has about 18,700
web hits on it.  "chock full", with about 207,000 web hits, beats it
all hollow, but 18,700 is not a negligible number.

and, no, i don't know who verafides is.

the review was posted on june 10, 2003, so it's not exactly hot news.
i've been kind of out of the loop.

arnold (zwicky at, who will eventually get around to
telling the
   pocket version of his, omigod, necrotizing fasciitis story

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