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Lawyers, doctors agree: There's no cure for fractured English


Among all the messages this reader-interactive newspaper column-writing unit -- that's me -- gets via fax, voice mail, the regular mail and impersonal encounters in the supermarket, there was this one from a woman with a sultry, Kathleen Turner-in-"Body Heat" kind of voice: "That's enough columns on malaprops, Dan. Let's move on."

She must be a stick-in-the-mug, judging by the volume of material you all submit to me. So here is what almost everyone -- except the woman with the great voice but the lousy attitude -- has been asking for. Back by popular command, more examples of fractured English, submitted by friends, relatives and colleagues of those who mess up words and perform malaprops within earshot of others. If you follow my draft.

An agrarian moron

From Anonymous in Brooklandville: "That judge was one of the most agrarian examples of a fore- most moron in the judicial profession."

From a Baltimore attorney: "Your honor, I don't want to mislead you down a primrose path."

From a certain former Baltimore City councilman: "One of my constituents had a lump on his arm, and the old guy was really worried that it may be cancerous, but he won't be sure till he goes to the hospital to get an autopsy."

From Greg Poole: "A man was speaking about his daughter-in-law. First, she was expecting a baby. Then she had the baby. Then she felt bad, he said, because she was experiencing the 'post-nasal blues.' "

From Ann Henry: "My cousin Bob credits his quick recovery at St. Agnes Hospital to the fine sturgeon he had there. . . . And then there's my friend Nancy. To eliminate the stress in her life, she says she has signed up for yogurt classes."

From Kathy Kessler: "My boyfriend owns a business. One of his customers did not want to write him a check because it may come back 'insignificant funds.' "

From Charles G. Bernstein, attorney at law: "I had an aunt who, when someone was overdressed, would always say, 'She was in full regatta.' "

Going to the dogs

Regarding pets, we received the following:

Pat Meyers (quoting a co-worker): "My son just got back from Memphis. He drove all that way for two Waltwaller pups. Now he's gonna have 'em spaded and littered."

Dorothy Chalfant (quoting her 5-year-old daughter, Janice): "We're getting a dog. It's a Pomergeranium."

Lyn Reeves: "My daughter asked a man who had a Rottweiler on a leash if she could pet his dog. He told her, 'Go ahead, but don't pet him around his lower back because he's got hip displeasure.' "

Taking the transom

A Baltimore man claimed to be able to get along with his neighbors: "I have a good rappaport with just about all of them."

From John Costello: "I worked with a guy who, when he went to an Orioles game, always sat in the magazine section. His mother was sick and had to go to Bon Security Hospital. And when he takes the bus, it's the Baltimore Transom."

The high art of stress

Literary masterpieces from term papers in local college classes:

"His goal was to elevate some of the stress on his family."

"Showing love for one another impales hope that things will get better."

Loony legalisms

What came across the desk of Paula Logue, legal secretary:

"People call to ask if we'll handle their suitcase. There was the woman who was quite upset because the police were going to expedite her brother for his arrangement [extradite for his arraignment]. We had an inmate who wrote asking for an after-david [affidavit]. We had a defendant who wanted to enter into a flea bargain [or flee bargain, maybe even plea bargain]."

Hemorrhoids in the head

Dr. E. R. Werthamer, an optometrist, heard a patient complaining about blurred vision: "The TV stations are going bugs. Something's wrong with the interception on the TV."

Another doctor said he heard a guy refer to his "higher hernia" and a "hemorrhoid of the brain."

Tom Richards had a dear friend who always made him laugh, especially with medical malaprops. "One day he came running and said, 'There was an accident on Harford Road, and a woman was hurt. Another woman menstrated first aid.' There was the time a doctor treated his granddaughter for 'streptophonic throat.' He advised us to invest in 'polo salteen,' which was the vaccine developed by Dr. Salk. Polo, he said, was caused by 'vitamin efficiency.' "

Heat makes him humble

From Teresa Kreiner: "A friend of mine said the other day he didn't mind the heat, but it was the high humility that bothered him. And I overheard two ladies in a store discussing a mutual friend's son. He was big and strong, very viral."

This spring, before the onslaught of June's heat and humility, Mike Bernard heard someone refer to the "unreasonably cool weather." Another guy named Mike said that, when summer sizzles, one of his relatives gets out her "ovulating fan."

Overheard by Alan Holmes during a wake at a funeral home: "If the [deceased] could see how her husband dressed her, she'd have just died."

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