“The People Power Party was disillusioned (dissolution)!” I recently announced with glee to a group of friends who promptly burst into hysterics. It took a minute or two to realise that I had, once again, committed my most reticent (persistent) and embellishing (embarrassing) of linguistic sins – Malapropism. For those who have never encountered Mrs. Malaprop, she is the wonderful character in Richard Sheridan’s 18th century play, The Rivals, whose memorable misuse of words included her reference to “an allegory (alligator) on the banks of the Nile” and her order to “illiterate (obliterate) him, I say, quite from your memory.”
Jokes aside though, I not only practice Malapropism, but am a repeat offender. I may be bilingual but I have made, and continue frequently to make, these shocking mistakes in both Thai and English. It’s a brain glitch.
In an early editorial I wrote of certain rumours in Chiang Mai which were “spreading like wild flowers (fire)”, and in yet another interview with a fortune teller, a profession I must admit to being most skeptical about, I discussed the “comic (cosmic) law”: malapropism and Freudian slip!
Another corker was also a recent, and more durable, mistake. I thought it would be amusing to put small labels on our various department doors – Brain Box for our server; Pow Wow for our meeting room, Think Tank for our informal meeting room, etc. I finally came up with a good one for the admin room and sent off all the signs to be properly made and installed. At our recent garden party I took tour after tour around the office and got a few giggles out of our signs. It wasn’t until yesterday that our deputy, James Austin Farrell, pointed out that I had labeled the admin room as Clogs (Cogs) & Wheels, I was wearing a new pair of clogs I had recently bought from Amsterdam when I wrote down the name. Thigh…