fork you, spoonerisms

A blushing crow can be a crushing blow.

Even if you haven't heard of the word 'spoonerism' before, I'll bet you've enviably fallen victim to its embarrassing ways more than once.

A speech impediment with mortifying timeliness; casualties are left tongue-tied and witnesses in stitches when letters are switched in error with laughable results.

Some of the greatest examples come from William Spooner himself. A likeable man with an unfortunate trait, he is said to have toasted Queen Victoria with "Let us glaze our rasses to the queer old Dean".

If you are at all familiar with the film 'Four Weddings and a Funeral', you will remember the verbally-bumbling Father Gerald. Played spectacularly by Rowan Atkinson, he amusingly recites the vows for the "awful wedded" in front of Jesus Christ and "the Holy Goat".

Although nerves seem to get the better of this character, I find that being overly tired can often leave me incoherent and open to fumbling my words. I was recently beset by "correign forespondents" – a little ironic given what I was trying to say don’t you think?

Despite these unforeseen speech mistakes, spoonerisms can also be used to rather deliberate comic effect. Favourite witticisms include “Work is the curse of the drinking class", as well as any coined by those clever fellows from Monty Python.

And where profanity is unacceptable, a muddled alternative can allow for feelings to be expressed in a subtler way. One such example that the male species might be familiar with (especially on a hot day) is Betty Swollocks.

All of these gaffes (on purpose or otherwise) prove to me how unforgiving, yet how hilarious, the English language can be.

Call it what you will; a slip of the tongue, a spoonerism or a Freudian slip, there's no denying the humour of getting your knockers in a knit.