May 30, 2010

Laughing Out Loud

by Marsha Ward

Since I began a trend in lampooning English gaffs, I seem to have tuned my ear (and eye) more towards the "oopsy" moments around me.

This week someone mentioned they saw a blog where the term "pre-Madonna" was used. Incorrectly, as it turns out. They weren't referring to the era before the singer became popular, nor to the 1997 album by Stephen Bray. Not even to the American singer/songwriter's own "Pre Madonna" album.

No indeed. I looked up the blog, and it's here, if you want to see LeBron James characterized as a self-concerned person, more important than the normal human being. Unfortunately, the proper insult term is "prima donna". The writer only got it right on his second attempt.

Prima donna comes from the Italian term for "first lady," usually used in an opera context to denote the lead female singer, who often acted in life in a high-handed manner. A similarly-used term is "diva," and both have become slang references to temperamental and conceited persons of either sex, whether in a film, music, or sports context.

You can read more here, here, and here.

I continue to snicker and LOL at these egregious misuses of English. I'm not immune to making some of them, but I do admit to hooting with laughter when I come upon such horrible examples used by poor souls who don't know any better.

On a more sober note, this week we've said goodbye to two of our blog team members, Krista Darrach and Sarah Albrecht, and welcomed our new contributors, Susan G. Haws and Tanya Parker Mills. We appreciate all that our departing friends have shared with us, and look forward to reading wonderful posts from our new members. There will be more changes in a few weeks.


  1. Poor sap. The writer will never live it down!

  2. And yet I can't help but think the 2 terms are related somehow... Pre-Madonna, did we truly understand the prima donna? Something like that...

  3. Isn't the English language fun? What we hear isn't always what somebody said, and the result is sometimes hilarious, like a group of high school seniors discussing who was going to be the valedictorian of the graduating class and one of their brains interpreted that unknown word as "valid Victorian." How delicious. A character in one of my books obliviously mangles the language with malaprops, and one of my friends who read the manuscript went through and corrected them all. That was funnier than the malaprops.

  4. I needed a good laugh this weekend. Thank you so much.

  5. That is funny. You'd think if they'd seen "Phantom of the Opera" they would have gotten a clue.

    I caught my own son referring to getting a "patriotical blessing" the other day, and had to correct him (gently of course). :)

    I find that if I look at practically any English word long enough, it begins to look strange and foreign. Take the word "foreign," for example. Now where did that come from?

    Rita Mae Brown advised all serious writers to learn Latin in her book "Starting From Scratch" in order to better understand our language, and I can certainly appreciate her thinking now.

  6. Ah well the way I look at it is thank goodness other people make mistakes like me. Want some of those to laugh at Marsha ha ha.

  7. Thank you for the English lesson. I remember when I was in college a cappella choir way-back-when, the director called our star soprano soloist a prima donna and it really hurt her feelings. I learned real fast what it meant.


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