Monday, September 12, 2016

Word substitutions (AKA: "Slips of the tongue")

I wanted to write something about a phenomenon which has occurred frequently in my life, instances of which I keep written down on scraps of paper kept in a drawer in my desk.

I will provide a list of them below, but wanted to explain that I have this trait (a kind of amusement the brain seems to be providing in an ongoing fashion, which I appreciate, like playing Scrabble with oneself, hoping it is not some sign of deterioration due to age, yet it all began for me when my children were little and asked me what was for dinner, and I said band aids (but meant hot dogs.) There is usually something about the substituted word or words that echoes the original: in this case, the two syllables, but also something else that ineffably connects the two. My wonderful Aunt Connie, who lived many a year with full brain power, herself fell into this same trait early on, and she and I often compared the absurdity of the substitutions, yet their somehow internal logic.

Connie had a lovely black cat named Cinder (and later two other cats) to whom she often spoke in a conversational fashion while in the kitchen, and telling the cat what she was making for breakfast, she said (for French toast), Scotch tape.

For the list of my own absurdities, first I should mention what inspired me to write this today. I have a great love for acorns...there is a collection of them out on my balcony railing, there are acorns scattered companionably on the dirt my houseplants reside in, and I frequently see ones outside that I just can't resist picking up and saving. Little perfections. The other day, walking down to my car in the row of garages where I live, I saw and picked up the tiniest little acorn I have ever green and brown, and not only was it darling but it seemed to have a tiny bite taken out of it or just some minute imperfection making it even more appealing, and for a reason I can't comprehend, I stupidly tossed it to the side and continued on the path. I quickly thought better of it though, and stepped back to look where I'd tossed neighbors were just going down the hill of the parking lot and saw me looking for something and rolled down the window and asked had I lost something? I confessed it was an acorn (this at a time when there were and are a million acorns everywhere around us, but I did say that as an artist, I wanted to find it again and draw it...I felt a little foolish if I hadn't given a good reason to find it again.) But it would not be found. I still now cast an eye out when I walk past that spot, but have not yet seen that same little guy. I have a couple more "tinies" up here in my apartment, and said to myself maybe I'll draw a couple of these "pumpkins", therein establishing the first time I will have made this particular substitution...and note that once said, the brain seems to think it amusing to keep it at the ready for all future mentionings of acorns (now pumpkins.)

Here's a somewhat embarrassing one I committed last year...I said to my daughter Liana, I will mail it to you Mandarin Orange (instead of Priority Mail.)  I have no idea where it came from but assume it has something to do with the number of syllables (like acorn = pumpkin.)

Here's the list:

For "keeping the soup refrigerated" = "keeping the soup hospitalized"

For "eyelashes" = "ashtrays"

For "I lost my cable connection" = "I lost my cablenut connection"

For "dandruff shampoo" = "garlic shampoo"

For "smoke alarm" = "hearing aid"

For "tape measure" = "weather vane"

I have more and will add to this list up ahead, but here are some other related things:

I heard a guy doing the weather on television who said "just after sunfall".*

And when recently looking for a pillow case in my linens chest of drawers, I said to myself: "I know there's a teakettle...a coffee pot...a placemat...a this drawer."  That about sums up the syndrome...they all being domestic items having to do with the household world...four of them have three syllables, one has two, but they all are confreres in the world of domesticity!

Here are some photos of my acorn collection...

Looking it up in the online Webster Merriam dictionary, I just learned that "sunfall" is a legitimate word...another way of saying "sunset". But it seems to me another indication of man's view of himself as at the center of the stage, so to speak.

1 comment:

Daria said...

Haha! Great post. I do this too. Don't forget to keep the soup hospitalized!