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|Indemnify the Malapropism: Act I
Written by Cheryl
(2/27/2007 11:42 p.m.)
Word History: "She's as headstrong as an allegory on the banks of the Nile" and "He is the very pineapple of politeness" are two of the absurd pronouncements from Mrs. Malaprop that explain why her name became synonymous with ludicrous misuse of language. A character in Richard Brinsley Sheridan's play The Rivals (1775), Mrs. Malaprop consistently uses language malapropos, that is, inappropriately. The word malapropos comes from the French phrase mal à propos, made up of mal, "badly," à, "to," and propos, "purpose, subject," and means "inappropriate." The Rivals was a popular play, and Mrs. Malaprop became enshrined in a common noun, first in the form malaprop and later in malapropism, which is first recorded in 1849. Perhaps that is what Mrs. Malaprop feared when she said, "If I reprehend any thing in this world, it is the use of my oracular tongue, and a nice derangement of epitaphs!"
Her name defines her, and in turn, her name has become a definition.
I love her and laugh at everything that comes out of her mouth, even if, I must confess, I can't always identify what word she was aiming for. And this is our Mrs Malaprop game: Indemnify the Malapropism. (Thanks to Myretta for the game name - it's perfect!) I'll list the malapropisms I was able to identify in each Act, and you see if you can decipher it. If you find some I missed, please add it to the list.
Here's what I have culled from Act I:
"You will promise to forget this fellow - to illiterate him, I say, quite from your memory."
"Now don't attempt to extirpate yourself from the matter; you know I have proof controvertible of it."
"Nay, nay, Sir Anthony, you are an absolute misanthropy."
This paragraph on the education of girls is filled with fun:
"Nothing is so conciliating to young people as severity."
"…prepare Lydia to receive your son's invocations."
"..the captain as an object not altogether illegible."
"I shall be glad to get her from under my intuition."
"…you forfeit my malevolence for ever."
"your being a simpleton shall be no excuse for you locality."
And finally - what is your favorite malapropism in Act I? Mine is: " I would have her instructed in geometry, that she might know something of the contagious countries."
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