Spoonerisms (named after Dr. William Archibald Spooner) are phrases that exchange the first letters of words to create new words or phrases with entirely different meanings ( for example, "Larry had a little Mamb" certainly conveys a different meaning than "Mary had a little Lamb").
I love spoonerisms. I first heard Rindercella some years ago when a storyteller told it at a story swap. Now I cannot recall the teller's name or even where the story swap was--I'd guess it was at a National Storytelling Conference--but the story amazed me and I decided to learn it.
Rindercella is one of the few stories I memorized because the placement of letters and words is important in this tale. For most of the stories I tell, I learn the story, commit its "bones" or outline to memory, and then tell it in my own words. The telling varies by audience; their comprehension, the amount of time we have, their age all impact how I tell a story. In the case of Rindercella, I tell the story almost exactly the same every time.
Here is my version of Rindercella:
Tonce upon a wime in a coreign fountry, there lived a geautiful birl named Rindercella. She lived with her sticked wetmother and her two sister step-uglies. Poor Rindercella! She had to do all the wirty dork and those two sister step-uglies? All they did was hush their brair.
Now in that same coreign fountry there lived a prandsome hince. That prandsome hince was so lad and sonely that he decided to have a drancy fess ball and invite all the geautiful birls. When those two sister step-uglies heard that, they wanted to go! They said, "Rindercella! Drix our fesses and hush our brair! We want to go to the drancy fess ball!"
Well, after they left, Rindercella just cat down and shried. She was citting there shrying when her gairy fodmother showed up. "Rindercella, why are you citting there shrying?"
"I want to go to the drancy fess ball, but all I have to wear are these rirty dags," said Rincercella.
"Pro noblem," said the gairy fodmother. She turned a cumpkin into a poach and she turned six mite hice into hix mite sorses. Then she said, "You must remember to return at the moke of stridnight!"
Well, off Rindercella went to the drancy fess ball, and when she got there, the first person to see her was that prandsome hince. And he lell in fove with her, um hmm. They danced and danced. Then suddenly, the mock cluck stridnight! And Rindercella, she stan down the rairs!
But when she stan down the rairs, she slopped her dripper. And when the prandsome hince followed her, all he found was that slopped dripper.
The next day, the prandsome hince went all over the coreign fountry looking for the geautiful birl whose foot would fit into that slopped dripper. When he came to the home of the sticked wetmother, well those two sister step-uglies wanted to try it on. But their fig beet fidn't dit it. But when Rindercella tried it on, her fittle leet fid dit it.
Well, to make a strong story lort, Rindercella and the prandsome hince were married and they hived lappily ever after. And the moral of the story is: if you want to catch a prandsome hince, all you have to do is slop your dripper.
(Did this ever drive my spell-check crazy! Or should I say, did this ever spive my drell creck chazy!)
Other stories told Spooner-style:
And closely related to Spoonerisms is a British tale I sometimes tell, Master of All Masters. The version below is from Joseph Jacob's English Fairy Tales.
Master of All Masters
A girl once went to the fair to hire herself for servant. At last a funny-looking old gentleman engaged her, and took her home to his house. When she got there, he told her that he had something to teach her, for that in his house he had his own names for things.
He said to her: “What will you call me?”
“Master or mister, or whatever you please sir,” says she.
He said: “You must call me ’master of all masters.’ And what would you call this?” pointing to his bed.
“Bed or couch, or whatever you please, sir.”
“No, that’s my ’barnacle.’ And what do you call these?” said he pointing to his pantaloons.
“Breeches or trousers, or whatever you please, sir.”
“You must call them ’squibs and crackers.’ And what would you call her?” pointing to the cat.
“Cat or kit, or whatever you please, sir.”
“You must call her ’white-faced simminy.’ And this now,” showing the fire, “what would you call this?”
“Fire or flame, or whatever you please, sir.”
“You must call it ’hot cockalorum,’ and what this?” he went on, pointing to the water.
“Water or wet, or whatever you please, sir.”
“No, ’pondalorum’ is its name. And what do you call all this?” asked he, as he pointed to the house.
“House or cottage, or whatever you please, sir.”
“You must call it ’high topper mountain.’”
That very night the servant woke her master up in a fright and said: “Master of all masters, get out of your barnacle and put on your squibs and crackers. For white-faced simminy has got a spark of hot cockalorum on its tail, and unless you get some pondalorum high topper mountain will be all on hot cockalorum.” .... That’s all.
Is your tonuge completely twisted now? Then try some of these tongue twisters:
Have fun! Tee you somorrow.