Saturday, June 23, 2012

Are You Related to Mrs. Malaprop?

By misusing words in a ridiculous fashion, Mrs. Malaprop demonstrates the appropriateness of her name. She shows the importance of knowing the meaning of a word before using it. 
More than two centuries ago, the English dramatist Richard Brinsley Sheridan wrote a successful play entitled The Rivals. Sheridan was inclined to give his characters names that reflect their dominant traits or habits. In The Rivals, he named one woman Mrs. Malaprop. The French expression ‘mal a propos’ means inappropriate or inopportune, and throughout the play Mrs. Malaprop demonstrates the appropriateness of her name. By misusing words in a ridiculous fashion.

Despite her confusions, Mrs. Malaprop has a fairly advanced vocabulary. She said, “I would by no means wish a daughter of mine to be a progeny of learning. I would send her, at nine years old, to a boarding school, in order to learn a little ingenuity and artifice. Then, sir, she should have a supercilious knowledge in accounts; and she grew up, I would have her instructed in geometry that she might know something of the contagious countries; but above all, Sir Anthony, she should be mistress of orthodoxy, that she might not misspell and mispronounce words so shamefully as girls usually do; and likewise that she might reprehend the true meaning of what she is saying. This, Sir Anthony, is what I would have a woman know; and I don’t think there is a superstitious article in it.”

In time, it became customary to all anyone who frequently misuses words a Mrs. Malaprop, and the errors themselves malapropisms. And based from Mrs. Malaprop’s dialogues, here are the words she had misused:
  • Mrs. Malaprop has misused the word Progeny for Prodigy
  • Artifice for Art
  • Supercilious for Superficial
  • Geometry for Geography
  • Contagious for Contiguous
  • Orthodoxy for Orthography
  • Reprehend for Apprehend
  • Superstitious for Superfluous
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