The terms below are old news to language observers, but some I learned only recently. You will certainly recognize the phenomena they describe, but did you know what they are called?
Crash Blossom: When headlines go awry. Crash blossoms aren’t simply stupid (“Statistics Show Teen Pregnancy Drops Off Significantly after 25”) or funny (“Man Accused of Killing Lawyer Receives New Attorney”); they feature awkward phrasing that results in ambiguity: “Drunk Gets Nine Months in Violin Case” or “British Left Waffles on Falklands.”
Cupertino Effect: When you doze off and let a computer or cell phone correct your spelling. (I’m sure I don’t need to give examples—in fact, I invite you to share your own in a comment.)
Mondegreen: Misheard lyrics to a song—such as that cheerful Christian hymn “Gladly, the Cross-Eyed Bear.”
Snowclone: A variation on a popular phrase, such as “What happens in X stays in X,” or “X is the new Y.”
Spoonerism: A transposing of the initial consonants of words: I’m going to shake a tower.
Mountweasel: A fake entry in a dictionary or lexicon, or a fictitious town on a map, placed as a trap for copyright violators. I knew of this practice from a brief stint as a cartographer, but the term for it came to my attention only recently at Johnson.
And my favorite: the Shatner comma: Urban Dictionary describes these as “oddly placed commas that don’t seem to serve any actual purpose in punctuation, but make it look like you should take odd pauses, as William Shatner does when delivering lines.”
You know, exactly, what I, mean.
Read this post and others from 2010 and 2011 in Moonlight Blogger.