Mrs. Malaprop’s influence is alive and well.


Mrs. Malaprop is a character in Richard Sheridan’s 1775 play, The Rivals. She mangles the English language with unrestrained enthusiasm. The play is somewhat dated but Mrs. Malaprop’s influence is apparently alive and well. Here are some modern-day examples of malapropisms:

• If you wish to submit a recipe for publication in the cookbook, please include a short antidote concerning it.
• I don’t want to cast asparagus at my opponent.
• The mountain is named for the Reverend Starr King, who was an invertebrate climber
• The fun and excitement of childhood are nothing compared to the fun and excitement of adultery.
• Ortiz is the most recent recipient of the pretentious “Con Edison Athlete of the Week Award.”
• Senators are chosen as committee chairmen on the basis of their senility.
• I refuse to answer that question. It’s too suppository.
• I took up aerobics to help maintain my well-propositioned figure.
• Medieval cathedrals were supported by flying buttocks.
• The marriage was consummated on the altar.
• The food in our cafeteria is so bad it’s not fit for human constipation.

With regard to the business world, consider these entries in a Dilbertisms contest sponsored by a newspaper: Here are the finalists:

1. As of tomorrow, employees will only be able to access the building using individual security cards. Pictures will be taken next Wednesday and employees will receive their cards in two weeks.

Note: This was the winning entry from Fred Dales at Microsoft Corporation in Redmond, WA.

2. What I need is a list of specific unknown problems we will encounter. (Lykes Lines Shipping)

3. E-mail is not to be used to pass on information or data. It should be used only for company business. (Accounting manager, Electric Boat Company)

4. This project is so important, we can’t let things that are more important interfere with it. (Advertising/Marketing manager, United Parcel Service)

5. Doing it right is no excuse for not meeting the schedule. No one will believe you solved this problem in one day! We’ve been working on it for months. Now, go act busy for a few weeks and I’ll let you know when it’s time to tell them. (R&D supervisor, Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing/3M Corp.)

6. My Boss spent the entire weekend retyping a 25-page proposal that only needed corrections. She claims the disk I gave her was damaged and she couldn’t edit it. The disk I gave her was write-protected. (CIO of Dell Computer)

7. Quote from the Boss: “Teamwork is a lot of people doing what I say.” (Marketing executive, Citrix Corporation)

8. My sister passed away and her funeral was scheduled for Monday. When I told my Boss, he said she died so that I would have to miss work on the busiest day of the year. He then asked if we could change her burial to Friday. He said, “That would be better for me.” (Shipping executive, FTD Florists)

9. “We know that communication is a problem, but the company is not going to discuss it with the employees.” (Switching supervisor, AT&T Long Lines Division)

10. We recently received a memo from senior management saying: “This is to inform you that a memo will be issued today regarding the subject mentioned above.” (Microsoft, Legal Affairs Division)

11. One day my Boss asked me to submit a status report to him concerning a project I was working on. I asked him if tomorrow would be soon enough. He said “If I wanted it tomorrow, I would have waited until tomorrow to ask for it!” (New business manager Hallmark Greeting Cards.)

12. As director of communications, I was asked to prepare a memo reviewing our company’s training programs and materials. In the body of the memo one of the sentences mentioned the “pedagogical approach” used by one of the training manuals. The day after I routed the memo to the executive committee, I was called into the HR director’s office, and told that the executive vice president wanted me out of the building by lunch. When I asked why, I was told that she wouldn’t stand for “perverts” (pedophiliac?) working in her company. Finally, he showed me her copy of the memo, with her demand that I be fired – and the word “pedagogical” circled in red. The HR manager was fairly reasonable, and once he looked the word up in his dictionary and made a copy of the definition to send back to her, he told me not to worry. He would take care of it. Two days later, a memo to the entire staff came out directing us that no words which could not be found in the local Sunday newspaper could be used in company memos. A month later, I resigned. In accordance with company policy, I created my resignation memo by pasting words together from the Sunday newspaper. (Taco Bell Corporation).

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