What is this "word game" called? And do you have any examples?

I think I heard Michael Caine once explain that it’s a British word play game. The first time I ever saw it was on the Benny Hill Show, when Benny plays a director trying to get hopelessly bad actors to say their lines right.

Actor: Look…up the road…a head.
Benny, as the director: No, no…it’s: ‘Look, up the road ahead.’

Michael Caine’s example was: “It’s all over my friend!” instead of, “It’s all over, my friend.”

Does this have a name? What other info do you know about it? Any more good examples?

I’m tempted to say it’s a malapropism, though that’s more commonly the (mis)use of the wrong but similar word or phrase with humerous results. This is more a case of the rearrangement of speech patterns (oral punctuation, if you will) to achieve a meaning different than the intended context despite all the correct words being present in the right order.

It reminds me of the “importance of punctuation” example:

A woman without her man is nothing.

add punctuation (or the appropriate intonation when speaking):

A woman: without her, man is nothing.

Or that man’s laughter is quite difference from manslaughter.

Don’t forget the immortal “You’ve gone far Ted.”


I am my own malaprop. That should read humorous.

But while I’m here, the phrase “a pen is just what I need” comes to mind.

“What is this thing called, love?” :wink:

Celebrity Jeopardy! skits on SNL.

Lisa Simpson: But it says here in your ad, WORKS ON CONTINGENCY / NO MONEY DOWN!
Lionel Hutz: Oh, they left out all the punctuation. It should read: WORKS ON CONTINGENCY*?** / NO**,** MONEY DOWN**!***