Do you spend hours rearranging rows of ink-stained block letters to find that perfect font for your publication? Unless you happen to be a 14th century printer’s apprentice, probably not. However, there was a time when choosing the correct typeface required getting your fingers dirty. In those days, if you were going to the trouble of choosing the best font, you would probably employ a pangram. A pangram is a sentence that uses all 26 letters of the English alphabet at least one time. “A quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog” is a famous example found in style manuals throughout the English-speaking world. When you type that sentence, you can see an example of every letter in the alphabet in your chosen font. In our increasingly paperless society you may not need to get your hands dirty anymore, but you may still find use for a pangram when trying to select that perfect font.
If you have have ever seen “Go hang a salami, I’m a lasagna hog” scrawled on a bathroom wall, than you have seen an example of a palindrome. It also means that you are at an establishment frequented by the better sort of logophile, or word-lover. A palindrome is a sentence or phrase that is spelled the same backwards as forwards. They can be a single word such as “deified” or they can wax philosophical, as in “Swap God for a janitor? Rot in a jar of dog paws!” So the next time Dr. Awkward asks you “May a moody baby doom a yam?” be ready with your palindromic reply of “Wow.”
Have you ever wanted to say “take a shower” and instead said “shake a tower”? Then you have been guilty of a spoonerism. Named for an Oxford clergyman with a peculiar speech problem that caused him to reverse syllables in paired words, spoonerisms can turn a sober statement into a hilarious gaffe. In spoonerisms, a “sad ballad” can turn into a “bad salad” or a “foul beast” can turn into a “ bowel feast.” Just make sure you tell the bartender you want a “bottle in front of me” and not a “frontal lobotomy.”
A malapropism is the replacement of a word with a similar sounding word, often to comedic effect. If you want to “flesh out” an idea, make sure you don’t “flush out” your thoughts instead. The internet is the largest repository of information in the world; just don’t confuse it with a suppository of information.