from Reader's Digest  Feb 95

	Rear Deeders, how your beds.  Let us salute the eponymous master 
of the verbal somersault, the Rev. William Archibald Spooner.  He left us 
all a legacy of laughter.
	He also gave the dictionary a new entry: SPOONERISM.  the very 
word brings a smile.  It refers to the linguistic flip-flops that turn "a 
well-oiled bicycle" into "a well-boiled icicle" and other ludicrous ways 
speakers of English get their mix all talked up.
	English is a fertile soil for spoonerisms, as author and lecturer 
Richard Lederer points out, because our language has more than three 
times as many words as any other--616,500 and growing at 450 a year.  
Consequently, there's a greater chance that any accidental transposition 
of letters or syllables will produce rhyming substitutes that still make 
sense--sort of.
	"Spooner," says Lederer, "gave us tinglish errors and English 
terrors ath the same time."
	Born in 1844 in London, Spooner became an Angelican priest and a 
scholar.  During a 60-year association with Oxford University, he 
lectured in history, philosophy, and divinity.  from 1876 to 1889, he 
served as a dean, and from 1903 to 1924 as warden, or president.
	Spooner was an albino, small, with a pink face, poor eyesight, 
and a head too large for his body.  His reputation was that of a genial, 
kindly, hospitable man.
	He seems also to have been somewhat of an absent-minded 
professor.  He once invited a faculty member to tea "to welcome our new 
archeology Fellow."
	"But, sir," the man replied, "I AM our new archeology Fellow."
	"Never mind," Spooner said, "Come all the same."
	After a Sunday service he turned back to the pulpit and informed 
his student audience: "In the sermon i have just preached, whenever I 
said Aristotle, I meant St. Paul."
	But Spooner was no featherbrain. In fact his mind was so nimble 
his tongue couldn't keep up.  The Greeks had a word for this typw of 
impediment long before Spooner was born: METATHESIS.  It means the act of 
switching things around.  
	Reverend Spooner's tendency to get words and sounds crossed up 
could happen at any time, but especially when he was agitated.  He 
reprimanded one student for "fighting a liar in the quadrangle" and 
another who "hissed my mystery lecture."  To the latter he added in 
disgust, "You have tasted two worms."
	Patriotic fervor excited Spooner as well.  He raised his toast to 
Her Highness Victoria: "Three cheers for our queer old dean!"  During WWI 
he reassured his students, "When our boys come home from France, we will 
have the hags flung out."  and he lionized Britian's farmers as "noble 
tons of soil."
	His goofs at chapel were legendary.  "Our Lord is a shoving 
leopard,"  he once intoned.  He quoted I Corinthians 13:12 as, "For now 
we see through a dark, glassly..."  Officiating at a wedding, he prompted 
a hesitant bridegroom, "Son, it is now kisstomary to cuss the bride."  
And to a stranger seated in the wrong place: "I believe you're occupewing 
my pie.  May I sew you to another sheet?"
	Did Spooner really say, "Which of us has not felt in his heart a 
half-warmed fish?"  he certainly could have--he was trying to say 
half-formed wish.
	Lederer offers these other authentic spoonerisms:
	At a naval review Spooner marveled at "this vast display of 
cattle ships and bruisers."
	To a school official's secretary: "Is the bean dizzy?"
	Visiting a friend's country cottage: "You have a nosey little 
crook here."
	Two years before his death in 1930 at age 86, Spooner told an 
interviewer he could recall only one of his trademark fluffs.  It was one 
he made announcing the hym "Kinkering Congs Their Titles Take," meaning 
to say "Conquering Kings."
	So if you have made a verbal slip, rest easy.  Many have.  Radio 
announcer Harry Von Zell once introduced the president as Hoobert 
Heever.  And Lowell Thomas presented British minister Sir Stafford Cripps 
and Sir Stifford Craps.
	Thanks to Reverend Spooner's style-setting sommersaults, our owm 
little tips of the slung will not be looked upon as the embarrassing 
babblings of a nitwit, but rather the whimsical lapses of a nimble brain.
	So let us applaud that gentle man who lent his tame to the nerm.  
May sod rest his goal.