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It’s very natural to commit mistakes. In this essay the writer gives the examples of great or big persons to show that the tongue slips are not only done by normal people but also done even by great or big persons of higher status.     
Types of Tongue Slips: 
  • Mistranslation: mistake in translation
  • Spoonerism (the transposition/substitution of sounds to each other/ accidental verbal error): an accidental transposition of initial consonant sounds or parts of words, especially one that has an amusing result, for example, “half-warmed fish” for “half-formed wish.”
  • Bloopers: Public blunder: spoken wrong in radio, press, etc. 
  • Faux pas: tactless mistake
Why do we laugh? 
  • To discover the hidden motive of the speaker.
  •  Relief by a change.

Oops! How’s That Again, written by Roger Rosenblatt tries to reflect the bitter reality of human beings when they make mistakes while speaking. The essay deals with the mistakes people make when speaking and the reasons why they make mistakes. As a natural trait (characteristic), everybody makes mistakes. Some mistakes are easy to take whereas others are not. This essay is written in a humorous tone with various remarkable examples to elaborate and expand writer's opinion. Human beings often make mistake knowingly and unknowingly when they speak. After making mistake they also apologize for it too. This type of mistake is committed by every kind of people. From an uneducated person to highly intellectual and educated, scholar, different mistakes are made according to their level. This essay is mainly focused with the mistake of people when they speak. Sometimes such verbal errors have devastating effect on both speaker and listener. These kinds of mistakes are generally caused due to slips of tonguepoor translations, or sound confusion. To elaborate the reasons of such mistakes in detail the writer has also describes the reasons of these mistakes from linguistic and psychological point of view.

  • Public Blunders
  • Memorable Translations
  • Bloopers (an embarrassing mistake)
  • Spoonerisms (slips of tongue)

Public Blunders (Faux pas) are the mistakes made by the people when they give speech. This type of mistake usually occurs when a person says something that he thinks harmless. But is actually has a meaning which upsets the speaker as well as the listeners. While delivering the speech, they don’t actually care for the grammatical mistakes or vocabulary mistakes. The political leaders specially commit these mistakes when they deliver their speech. They try to give emphasis by giving different examples but their sentences are not totally complete. This happens due to their tongue slip. Here the speaker may be trying to give message from one view but the different audience may take it in wrong way.

Mistranslations are the mistakes generally done by the people who speak very fast. This is also related to the psychological condition of the listener. The words spoken by the fast speaker may not be easily understood the real words. There may be misunderstanding between the speaker and listener. This type of mistake is also made when the text of a language is badly translated into another language.

Bloopers are the mistakes done foolishly and not tried to correct. These mistakes are very simple types of mistakes, which are not given much importance by the speaker. This may be the habit of some people. Spoonerisms (slips of the tongue) are the mistakes, which are done by the use of incorrect words due to slips of tongue. In such mistake, the speaker tells one thing when he means to say another or something else. Here, the listener does not know wrong words as the speaker immediately tries to replace the wrong word when he comes to know the mistake. While the replacement of words the speaker should be conscious as wrong replacement can misinterpret the actual meaning.

Quoting the mistakes because slip of tongue, the writer mentions that in a Royal Luncheon is Glasgow; a businessman wished Prince Charles a long and happy conjugal life with Lady Jane instead of Lady Diana. In Chicago, the governor of Illinois was introduced as mayor of Illinois and again as governor of America. While giving the examples of faux pas the writer mentions that once Nancy Regon describes the voters as ‘the beautiful white people’ ignoring the black people present there which put her in very difficult situation. The French prime minister while condemning a bomb attack once said that the bomb was aimed at Jews but it struck the innocent Frenchmen. It meant that the Jews in France weren’t Frenchmen and they weren’t innocent either. Mistranslation is also the cause of verbal error. Pepsi’s advertisement “Come alive with Pepsi” was mistranslated into German language as “Come alive out of the grave with Pepsi”. German prime minister once asked Indian president “Who are you?” instead of “How are you?” while receiving him at the airport.

Spoonerism began with William Archibald Spooner when he chided (scolded) his students as “You hissed all my mystery lecture, you haveve tasted the whole worm...drain”. He meant to say as, “You’ve missed all my history lectures and you have wasted the whole term...down train”.

Although these mistakes are funny to us, linguists and psychologists take these mistakes seriously. Victoria Fromkin, a linguist calls the mistakes clues to how the brain stores and articulates language. Other linguists suggest that the mistake expresses the mis-speaker’s inner thought. Psychologist Ludwig says the verbal mistake occurs because of human id, ego and super ego.

Verbal mistakes always tell us about the logic and possibility behind them. We always laugh when people make mistakes. Sometimes, we find mistakes funny because of being mean. But sometimes we laugh at verbal mistake because we feel sympathy as we all make mistakes.


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