slip of the tongue

One of colleague Daphne’s Facebook status updates on 13 August:

Aiyah since u all want to know..what i did.. Let me tell u all…
Just now i met a old uncle with a pair of cutie female twins at my vioddeck..
Our conversation
Me : wah 好可爱哦!!!!
Uncle: 她们是我的孙女
Me: wah 张得好像。。她们是同性恋吗?OMGxxx 她们是双胞胎!!!
Uncle : hahahahhahahahahahahah!!!

Cleaned it up a bit for clarity:

Since you all want to know what I did, let me tell you. Just now I met an old uncle with a pair of cute female twins at my void deck. Our conversation:

Me: Wah so cute!!!
Uncle: They are my granddaughters.
Me: Wah they really look alike. Are they tong xing lian (homosexual, literally ‘same sex love’)? OH MY GOD they are shuang bao tai  (twins, literally ‘double womb foetuses’)!!!
Uncle: Hahahahahahahahaha!!!
Me: !!!

If you notice, the Chinese terms tong xing lian (homosexual) and shuang bao tai  (twins) both similarly encompass a numerical connotation of ‘two’ (and so do their English equivalents, actually).

D’s speech error, a lexical selection error, is interesting because it shows how linguistic information is organized in the brain. Words are stored in our internal lexicon. Some theories posit that words are stored closer to words with similar meanings. And when we was produce speech, our brains quickly access the internal lexicon and locate the correct words needed. Somehow D’s brain had a momentary lapse and picked the wrong term, D uttered it, and an unintentional joke was born. :)


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