11 Best Uses of Bad Grammar from The Simpsons
By Arika Okrent
When it comes to comedy, sometimes a little grammatical wrongnity is exactly what’s called for. Here are 11 examples from The Simpsons that are bad in just the right ways.
1. A NOBLE SPIRIT EMBIGGENS THE SMALLEST MAN
Episode: “Lisa the Iconoclast”
The town motto of Springfield takes the air out of the hifalutin’ pretentiousness of lofty sloganeering by sticking a simple “big” where it doesn’t belong. When Mrs. Krabappel questions the correctness of “embiggens,” Ms. Hoover responds that it's a "perfectly cromulent word.” Both “embiggen” and “cromulent” have gone on to successful careers as words in the real world.
2. ME FAIL ENGLISH? THAT’S UNPOSSIBLE!
Episode: “Lisa on Ice”
A classic Ralph Wiggum moment. Sweet cluelessness compounded. He thinks he’s winning an award, but is instead handed an “academic alert.”
3. ONE SPRINGFIELD MAN IS TREATING HIS WIFE TO AN EXTRA SPECIAL VALENTINE’S DAY THIS YEAR, AND INTROBULATING THE REST OF US.
Episode: "I’m with Cupid”
When Kent Brockman delivers his Valentine’s Day news report he creates a new word for “getting in trouble” that allows him to maintain the newscasters’ convention of introducing a personal interest story with the frame “and Xing the rest of us.”
4. ME LOVE BEER
Episode: “Trilogy of error”
When Lisa introduces Homer to Linguo, her grammar correcting robot, he says “me love beer.” When Linguo corrects him, saying “I love beer,” the correction angle goes right over Homer’s head, and taking Linguo at his word, Homer gets him a beer. Friendliness trumps grammatical chagrin for the win.
5. IF YOU’RE SO SURE WHAT IT AIN’T, HOW ‘BOUT TELLING US WHAT IT AM!
Episode: “Lisa the Skeptic”
Moe says this to Lisa after an archaeological dig turns up a mysterious skeleton that the residents of Springfield think is an angel. Lisa is trying to convince them that there must be a more rational explanation. He challenges her eggheaded pleas with the folksy “ain’t” and “’bout,” and caps it all off with the ultimate anti-smarty-pants challenge, “it am.”
6. YOU KNOW WHAT REALLY AGGRAVAZES ME? IT’S THEM IMMIGANTS. THEY WANTS ALL THE BENEFITS OF LIVING IN SPRINGFIELD, BUT THEY AIN’T EVEN BOTHER TO LEARN THEMSELVES THE LANGUAGE.
Episode: “Much Apu about Nothing”
Another great line from Moe, capturing the all too real phenomenon of people complaining about immigrants’ language skills while showing their own lack of skills. Homer responds, “Hey, those are exactly my sentimonies.”
7. STOP IT YOU WANT-WIT! I COULD GET STUNG BY A BUMBLED BEE!
Episode: “Goo Goo Gai Pan”
While giving Mr. Burns a driving test so he can replace his expired license, Selma, suffering a hot flash, tries to open the convertible top. Mr. Burns yells this at her in his signature style—nonsense that sounds convincingly like old-timey sense.
8. DOES EVERY SIMPSON GO THROUGH A PROCESS OF DUMBENING? HEY, THAT’S NOT HOW YOU SPELL "DUMBENING." WAIT A MINUTE, DUMBENING ISN’T EVEN A WORD!
Episode: “Lisa the Simpson”
Lisa writes this in her diary, worrying that she is losing her intelligence due to a “Simpson Gene.” But even though she’s supposed to sound like her smarts are in question, the use of “dumbening” is very Lisa. “Go through a process of dumbening” is much more bookish sounding than “get dumber.”
9. WE MUST FACE UP TO THE UNFACEUPTOABLE
Episode: “Trash of the Titans”
Mayor Quimby’s comment on the budget crisis caused by Homer’s disastrous run as Sanitation Commissioner is easy to understand, despite its grammatical sins.
10. WE’VE SQUOZEN OUR WHOLE SUPPLY! TO THE LEMON TREE!
Episode: “Lemon of Troy”
Milhouse shouts this after all the lemons have been used up at his lemonade stand. If we have “freeze-frozen,” why not “squeeze-squozen”? It sounds like a completely reasonable antiquated past participle. The form fits well with Milhouse’s dramatic, slightly Shakespearean rallying cry.
11. JUDGE A PIG COMPETITION? BUT I’M NO SUPER GENIUS … OR ARE I?
Episode: “Simple Simpson”
Homer, of course. Even better than the presupposition that judging a pig competition involves being a super genius is the ridiculous, devious, and oh so Homer “or are I?” that follows. You am, Homer. Of course you am.
For more Simpsons language play, check out Heidi Harley's collection of linguistically relevant Simspons jokes here.