Weekend Edition, heard Sundays on National Public Radio, recently had a contest for listeners to create a riddle whose answer is a spoonerism. As you all know, or should if you read Words Gone Wild (Skyhorse Publishing, $22.95), a spoonerism is a transposition of the initial sounds of two words so that it results in two other words, preferably humorous in their context. The Rev. William Archibald Spooner, who was a very dizzy bean of New College at Oxford University, was noted for committing this verbal blunder—expressions such as “the Lord is shoving leopard” and the like.
The winning entry of the NPR competition was from Michael True of Falls Church, Virginia—or was that Michael Falls of True Church, Virginia? Anyway, his riddle, judged the best of probably hundreds, maybe thousands, that were submitted, is: What’s the difference between a wedding chapel and a restaurant’s daily specials? The answer: One is a marrying venue, and the other is a varying menu.
The runners-up were pretty good, too. Pat Mauer of Los Angeles wanted you to guess the difference between a guinea hen and a young witch, and if you didn’t know, you would be told: One is a wild chicken and the other is a child Wiccan.
I also liked Gary Disch’s third-place entry, all the way from Ottawa: the difference between a dasher and a haberdasher is that one makes short spurts and the other makes sports shirts.
The Bud of Barfalo Bayou has been known to spoonerize in his time, too.
In full-length mink and fine fur hat,
She thought that she disguised her fat.
Most people found her fur suit hairy,
And thought she was a hirsute fairy.