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Quote: "Mum can’t talk to you now; she’s just got the Pulitzer surprise." Nine-year-old son of Geraldine Brooks, author of the prizewinning bookMarch,” in USA Today.

Figure of Speech: malapropism(MAL-a-prop-ism) or acyrologia (a-keer-o-LO-gia), the fortunate mix-up.

Brooks’ Civil War novel won the Pulitzer, beating a better-known Civil War book by E.L. Doctorow (titled, coincidentally, The March).

So credit Brooks fils with an excellent malapropism. It’s an eponym named for the addlebrained literary character, Mrs. Malaprop. But credit the Greeks for coining the figure two and a half millennia before. The acyrologia ("unauthorized speech") swaps a word with a like-sounding but fortuitously wrong substitute.

As good as young Master Brooks is with the figure, its reigning master is Yogi Berra.

Snappy Answer: "Please tell your mum that we wish her a seedy recovery."

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