SPOONERISM: ‘ÀWỌN LOOK GOODING GUYS’
By Hassan Abdulbaqi
The character must have not noticed. The director and the whole crew may have overlooked the error and see it as a minor that does not warrant re- shooting the scene. That was the scene that had been widely shared from a Yorùbá movie, where a female actor had said, “àwọn look gooding guys!” instead of “àwọn good looking guys”. ‘Àwọn’ marks plurality is Yorùbá language.
This phenomenon is technically called spoonerism. It usually happens in the case of quick speech where the speaker is only speaking without keeping control of his speech with the brain. Speakers tend to transpose the sounds in two or more words which results in spoonerism. ‘Spoonerism’ was named after W.A Spooner (1844-1930), the head of the New College, Oxford, who was said to have made a lot of these errors during his lifetime. Peter Farb reported in his Word Play: What Happens When People Talk (1974) that “He (Spooner) began a speech to an audience of farmers: ‘I have never before addressed so many tons of soil.” He was also said to have complimented his host on her nosy little cook and raised his glass to the queer old Dean.
It is possible that we do not have those who display narcissistic tendencies like Narcissus, the man who “narcissism” was named after. The Greek myth has it that he fell in love with his own reflection in the pool. But we cannot argue that Spoonerism started with W.A Spooner, for it is a common language phenomenon across all ages and languages since it is not exclusive to English Language, Spooner’s language, neither did it start in 1844, Spooner’s birth year. It must have been derived from Spooner due to the position he held- the head of the New College Oxford- as it is in the words of Margaret Visser (1994) in her The Way We Are: “Spooner became the stuff of legend, which grew and multiplied with the help of his colleagues and students.”
This is the discussion of spoonerism in a bit, rear diras…sorry, dear readers!