604: Qwertial Aphasia

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Qwertial Aphasia
If this were SMBC, the alt-text drawing thingy would be a giraffe hooker fluttering her eyelashes.
Title text: If this were SMBC, the alt-text drawing thingy would be a giraffe hooker fluttering her eyelashes.


Randall has invented the name "Qwertial Aphasia", to describe the common experience of having a word, from a spoken conversation, accidentally spill over into something one is typing, often with humorous results.

Aphasia is a class of medical conditions which affect the production and understanding of language. The description "Qwertial" probably refers to the position of the top row of letters in the most common keyboard arrangement, the QWERTY keyboard layout.

The joke set up in the comic comes from the substitution of the word 'giraffe' for the word 'frequently', which changes the whole meaning of the sentence. The original sentence would have been 'I can't afford to keep eating out this frequently.' The unintentional replacement makes 'giraffe' the object of the sentence, and implies that Cueball is 'eating out' (slang for cunnilingus) a giraffe. He tries to correct himself but the damage is done; worse, the amended statement could be read to mean that he's unwilling to eat out a giraffe "frequently", but has no objection to doing it occasionally.

Another possible reading is that Cueball is correcting his first statement, explaining that this happens more often than just "sometimes".

The title text continues the image of a giraffe as a sexual object - in particular, one which costs money. SMBC refers to the comic Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, a whimsical joke-a-day comic which comes with a second illustration, which can be seen by clicking on a button known as the "votey". This additional panel often serves as a second punchline in the same way as the title text does in xkcd. Zach Weiner of SMBC responded to this title text in the votey on July 2, 2009.


I hate how when I'm talking while I type, sometimes I accidentally type a word I'm saying.
[Cueball is sitting at a computer.]
Computer: Wanna go get food later?
[Megan runs over, holding a giraffe.]
Megan: Check out what I found in the closet!
Type type
Cueball [Typing]: Sorry, I really shouldn't.
Cueball [talking]: Aww, what an adorable stuffed giraffe!
Type type
Cueball [typing]: I can't afford to keep eating out this giraffe.
Frequently! I meant "frequently"!

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I strongly feel that the first interpretation to the "frequently" part is the intended one. 22:49, 2 January 2014 (UTC)

As the explanation has changed since this was written, it is hard to know which part it was he preferred. Hopefully the one that remains? :-) --Kynde (talk) 22:03, 1 February 2016 (UTC)
Maybe it used to say "I can't afford to keep eating out this giraffe frequently" - 04:10, 22 July 2017 (UTC)

I occasionally suffer from Dvorial Aphasia. 11:59, 13 October 2016 (UTC)

Well, I occasionally suffer from Reverse Quertial/Dvorial Aphasia, where I speak out words I'm typing.