This page explains how contrepèteries work, gives examples of how they can be build, provides tools to help you in making them.
It also explains how it differs from the lower form of “spoonerism”, due to strict rules on the meaning of the original and final sentences, and the aim of not just “sounding funny” but “being funny”.
What is a contrepeterie?
Take an innocent sentence. Switch two sounds of two words (both sounds are in the same position: start, middle or end of words). You get a sentence which is either naughty, or political, or topical. The closer the connection or clash between the two sentences, the better. There are strict rules as regards: - pronunciation (sounds must remain unchanged by swap) - meaning (both sentences must be meaningful) You can find a list of valid examples here: http://contrepeter.ie/index.php/valid-examples/
If you define spoonerism as the switching of the sounds of two words, on purpose or accidentally, with a humorous outcome, you may say that the contrepet is a form of spoonerism. Just as much as you could say that it is a form of humor, or a form of writing. Spoonerisms have no strict rules. The sentence does not need to make sense to "sound funny". Contrepéteries have a strict set of rules: all spoonerism (far from that) do not qualify as a contrepet. And the quality of the contrepet increases with the congruence in the meaning of both sentences, the words, used, the context.
Not very flexible. They are probably harder in English than in French, as the long and short vowels need to be respected. Not working: I spat on your tweet. Working: I spat on your twit. Exceptions exists in case a regional pronunciation or dialect can be argued, but it usually has to be related to the meaning of one of the sentences. And it must apply to the whole sentence.
They are essentially the same thing: the former is grammatically a feminine word, the latter a masculine, in French. You could argue that the contrepet is the switch, and that the contrepèterie is the sentence (both the innocent starting point, and the secret less decent reveal).
Because it is like a good joke: it should not have to be explained and it should just have the amount of words it needs. If you have two phrases, you need two switches. And the sentences should stand on their own, otherwise you end up with the lower form of the common spoonerism.
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