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I'd like to know the name of the process in English in which you swap the first letters of two words. I can't explain it well but see the examples below:

  • Taylor Swift -> Saylor Twift
  • London Town -> Tondon Lown
  • Central Bedfordshire -> Bentral Cedfordshire

And so on.

What are these called in English?

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  • I doubt that this is particular to English. What is the name of this in your language? Have you looked in a bilingual dictionary?
    – James K
    May 23, 2020 at 10:08
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    @James K whether or not it’s particular to English, it’s definitely got a particular name in English, which I doubt would be in a bilingual dictionary (for example, I’ve got a German bilingual dictionary and it doesn’t have any entries relating to it). May 23, 2020 at 10:22
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    @Fivesideddice Indeed? There is indeed a particular name for this in English (already given) If there is no word for this in Swifty's native language, why would they suppose a name exists in English? Their question is missing that context. If there is a word in their language, then a dictionary should easily find it. There are lots of "what is the word" questions. Most are answerable with a dictionary. Perhaps this one isn't, but its not our job to guess the OP's native language and check.
    – James K
    May 23, 2020 at 11:19
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    There's a whole kind of funny poems in German which are based on these swaps giving two very different meanings (whereas in English, most often the result of the swap is nonsensical, so it's a different kind of humour). It's called Schüttelreim: de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sch%C3%BCttelreim May 23, 2020 at 18:51

1 Answer 1

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It's called spoonerism.

Examples:

  • A blushing crow -> A crushing blow
  • A lack of pies -> A pack of lies
  • A well-boiled icicle -> A well-oiled bicycle
  • Bedding wells -> wedding bells
  • belly jeans -> jelly beans

A spoonerism is an error in speech in which corresponding consonants, vowels, or morphemes are switched between two words in a phrase.

Example: An example is saying "The Lord is a shoving leopard" instead of "The Lord is a loving shepherd." — Wikipedia

You might want to read 'Runny Babbit' (Bunny Rabbit) which is full of spoonerisms.

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    It's named after a person (the famous Rev. Spooner), so shouldn't it be written as Spoonerism? "In my heart there is a half-warmed fish."
    – jcupitt
    May 24, 2020 at 4:43
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    I can't help feeling that a 'proper' Spoonerism has to result in valid words (although I can't find Internet corroboration for this view). This would rule out most of those in Runny Babbit, and all of the OP's examples.
    – TonyK
    May 24, 2020 at 16:18
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    @TonyK given Spooner made these verbally, not written, so a valid Spoonerism only has to sound legitimate when spoken. Otherwise the three OP examples would not be valid spoonerisms.
    – Criggie
    May 24, 2020 at 21:04
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    @jcupitt — Deciding when an eponymous adjective should be demoted to lower case is bound to be a gargantuan, herculean endeavor. I would not be jovial about the odds. To impose such a task on yourself would quixotic, even masochistic; to attempt to do so on others would be draconian, verging on sadistic. May 25, 2020 at 8:07
  • Haha, true, though Spooner only died in 1930, so he's a recent figure. I'm sure you'd write Victorian, Churchillian, or even Trumpesque.
    – jcupitt
    May 25, 2020 at 10:21

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