James Naughtie delivers a spoonerism before breakfast
'AFTER the NEWS', announced the normally sober broadcaster, James Naughtie, 'we are going to be talking to Jeremy Cunt ...er Jeremy Hunt! - the Culture Secretary about the art of Broadband'. That was just before the Today News on Radio 4 at 8am this morning, and within minutes the emails were flooding into Broadcasting House with one from a psycho-linguist who said David Cameron was to blame for appointing a man with the name of 'Hunt'. As if that was not enough, it was a live broadcast and Mr Naughtie had to go on to valiantly, between chuckles, to struggle to introduce the 8am News while all the time desperately pretending he had a frog in his throat. Chris Draper tackled this spooneristic problem with Yorkshire Curd Tart in the last issue of Northern Voices. Today's incident didn't quite descend into the giggles that accompanied the Brian Johnson cricket commentary that included the 'leg over' term, but it has led to widespread comment throughout the day on Radio 4. However, an hour later Andrew Marr referred to the James Naughtie incident on Start The Week on Radio 4, during a discussion on Freudian slips, and blurted out 'Jeremy C***' before gasping with laughter.
Dr Mike Page, a reader in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire, has said it was a classic Spoonerism — the verbal blunder named after the Reverend William Archibald Spooner (1844–1930), renowned for such slips while warden of New College, Oxford. Dr Page said: 'Studies show that where two words share the same vowel sound this will promote the exchange of the preceding consonant ... like saying queer old dean' instead of dear old queen'.
Dr Page did not think the slips revealed that BBC presenters hold the Culture Secretary, who has ordered the corporation to cut spending, in low esteem.
'Freud's theory of para-praxes is that an unconscious or concealed view may emerge inadvertently in a verbal error, but Naughtie was almost certainly a spoonerism. Marr fell victim to the white bear effect': the more he tried not to think of the word, the more he primed his brain to say it.'