Spoonerism is a literary device in which the initial sounds or letters of two or more words are switched to create a new and often humorous meaning. It is named after the Reverend William Archibald Spooner, who was known for accidentally mixing up the sounds of words while speaking. Spoonerisms can occur intentionally or unintentionally and are often used for comedic effect. They can also be used to draw attention to a particular word or phrase, or to create a sense of confusion or disorientation. Spoonerisms are most commonly used in spoken language, but they can also be used in written works, particularly in poetry and wordplay.
Examples of spoonerism:
“The weight of rages will press hard upon the employer” (instead of “the weight of wages will press hard upon the employer”)
“It is kisstomary to cuss the bride” (instead of “it is customary to kiss the bride”)
“You have a half-warmed fish in your head” (instead of “you have a half-formed wish in your head”)
In Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” the character of the Mock Turtle says, “We called him Tortoise because he taught us” (instead of “we called him Teacher because he taught us”).
In William Shakespeare’s “The Comedy of Errors,” the character Dromio says, “Am I so round with you as you with me, / That like a football you do spurn me thus?” (instead of “am I so bound to you as you to me”).