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It’s not a mistake, it’s malapropism!

March 12, 2010

Why is that English-speaking people have so many words to describe linguistic mistakes? I came across the Yogiism on Wikipedia yesterday and ended up reading and looking up quite a few technical terms which has quite specific meanings. Most of the Wikipedian (?) articles, which I read in English, do not have an equivalent entry in Chinese. Do we also have such terms in our language, or do we just call them mistakes in Chinese? I mean, or do we just call them 口誤 in Chinese?

(Definitions plagiarised from the online version of the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary)

(n.) the use of a wrong form or pronunciation of a word by sb who is trying to show that they can use language correctly.


  • Work will résumé tomorrow.
  • 北杏中之大杏 (「勤力音」)

(n.) an amusing mistake sb makes when they use a word which sounds similar to the word they wanted to use, but means sth different

  • Love thy labour.
  • 缺氧核糖核酸

(n.) the use of more words than are necessary to express a meaning.

  • Empty space
  • 免費贈品

(n.) a mistake in which you change around the first sounds of two words by mistake when saying them, often with a humorous result

  • Don’t save anything particular to hay (although it would sound like “don’t saf anything particular to hay” when spoken.)
  • 惠康咁貴,下次去格Buy啦!

(n.) a statement in which you say the same thing twice in different words, when this is unnecessary

  • Really 真係呀?
  • In terms of financially-wise speaking, I think the project is feasible.
  • Second World War II (credit to my brother’s classmate)
2 Comments leave one →
  1. lemonalism permalink*
    March 13, 2010 12:44 pm

    I always have Pleonasm and Tautology in my writing.

    • Miah permalink*
      March 14, 2010 4:58 am

      I have all of them in my writing and speaking! Now we know what they are called!

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