As to the bookstore, I’ll be doing a public reading (a performance of one of my plays) there on Sunday, along with the other students in my writing class. I’m both thrilled and nervous; Malaprop’s is an iconic store in a city of writers.
In checking out their website, I found something else that’s fun. The owner and founder is Hungarian! She wrote:
“My love of books came naturally; it is an inheritance from my grandmother, who always told us that ‘our only wealth was what we had in our heads, what we learned, because all else can be taken away.’ As a Hungarian, she knew this well, having lived through two World Wars, a revolution, and communist rule. I still hear her words and they are my guide in everything I do.”
Thirty years ago, she chose the name malaprop from a character in Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s play The Rivals (1775). Mrs. Malaprop consistently used language malapropos (mal being French for bad and apropos being appropriate). Her name became synonymous with a ludicrous misuse of language, especially when it comes to similar-sounding words.
Some examples of malapropisms:
- She’s as headstrong as an allegory on the banks of the Nile. (alligator)
- He is the very pineapple of politeness. (pinnacle)
- Illiterate him quite from your memory. (obliterate)
- Rainy weather can be hard on the sciences. (sinuses)
- A rolling stone gathers no moths. (moss)
- Good punctuation means not to be late. (punctuality)
- The flood damage was so bad they had to evaporate the city. (evacuate)
- Dad says the monster is just a pigment of my imagination. (figment)
My appreciation for convoluted sayings undoubtedly has to do with my Pennsylvania Dutch heritage. I grew up on a diet of phrases from my grandmother such as: “The hurrier I go, the behinder I get” and “Throw Papa from the train his hat.”
Baseball legend Yogi Berra, one of my favorite people to quote, was the king of mixing up his words.
- A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore.
- Baseball is 90% mental and the other half physical.
- Always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t come to yours.
- Half the lies they tell about me aren’t true.
- If you come to a fork in the road, take it.
- You can observe a lot just by watching.
I just hope I don’t get tongue-tied in my performance this weekend and come up with my own malapropisms.