I love words and playing with words; elegant prose, clever quotes, withering sarcasm, dreadful puns, witty turns of phrase, spoonerisms, palindromes, semordnilaps, mordengreens, malapropisms and of course dad jokes which are the purest expressions of many of the linguistic constructs just listed.
I love to share the best and worst of these little gems and whilst I love some more than others anything that is clever or funny or bizarre is likely to pique my interest and catch my eye (or ear).
Some of the best, funniest and most thought provoking of these are the semordnilaps. A semordnilap is a word or phrase that when read backwards makes another word or phrase (either actually or homophonically). Semordnilaps differ from palindromes in that the word or phrase when read backwards gives a different word or phrase to the word or phrase read forwards.
Semordnilaps have been the subject of much controversy especially by conservative groups seeking to ban heavy metal music which they contended revealed satanic messages when played backwards. That, in my humble opinion is a load of aged shoemakers and as Dee Snider of the band Twisted Sister said when addressing a Congressional Committee and taking aim squarely at Tipper Gore of the PMRC (and paraphrasing here):
People hear what they want to hear. If your mind predisposes you to hear satanic messages or calls to sexual deviancy or suicide in lyrics then that’s what you’ll hear.
Other semordnilaps are coincidentally (or are they) revealing about the nature of the thing their left to right reading gives. Examples of this phenomenon are the bottled water brand Evian when read right to left gives naive – perhaps that says something about the consumers of their product perhaps it is pure coincidence. In a different vein the word stressed when read right to left gives ‘desserts’ which is perhaps why most emotional eaters turn to sweets for their emotional crutch and why ice cream and chocolate are so popular among the broken hearted. So if you come across any semordnilaps in your travels that make you laugh or give you pause for thought then please share them here.
The same goes for spoonerisms – which are sometimes just downright funny, palindromes – more curious than funny, clever quotes, Churchillian or Parkeresque sarcasm and wit and mordengreens, I just love mordengreens; those misheard and misquoted song lyrics, movie lines and quotations have given me some of the best laughs ever. So if you find any such hidden gems post them here on Category Zero.