Showing posts with label Mondegreen. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mondegreen. Show all posts

Feb 12, 2016

Mondegreens, Malapropisms, and Eggcorns

A mondegreen is a word or phrase resulting from a misinterpretation of another word or phrase that we hear. Mondegreens sound like the original wording, but often change the meaning of the word or phrase entirely. The term mondegreen is usually applied to misheard song lyrics or lines of poetry, but can also refer to other types of speech. For example, someone might hear the sarcastic saying “Thank you, Captain Obvious” as “Thank you, Katherine Obvious.”

A malapropism is the use of an incorrect word in place of a word with a similar sound, resulting in a nonsense, or humorous utterance. Yogi Berra was a master of this, saying things, such as "Texas has a lot of electrical votes," rather than "electoral votes". Another example is “dance the flamingo” instead of “dance the flamenco.”

Eggcorns are an idiosyncratic substitution of a word or phrase for a word or words that sound similar or identical in the speaker's dialect. The new phrase introduces a meaning that is different from the original, but plausible in the same context, such as "old-timers' disease" for "Alzheimer's disease" or "mating name" instead of "maiden name."

If a person stubbornly sticks to a mispronunciation after being corrected, that person has committed a mumpsimus.

Mar 12, 2013

Wordology, Mondegreen

Mistakes due to mishearing or misunderstanding, are called mondegreens. Most people have at one time or another inadvertently made a mondegreen when singing songs without knowing the correct lyrics. American writer Sylvia Wright coined the term in her essay "The Death of Lady Mondegreen," published in Harper's Magazine in 1954. She got the idea from a poem she misquoted when a child.

"Ye Highlands and ye Lowlands,
 Oh, where hae ye been?
 They hae slain the Earl O' Moray,
 And Lady Mondegreen."  The actual fourth line is "And laid him on the green".

Here is an example: ‘Scuse me while I kiss this guy (from a lyric in the song “Purple Haze”, by Jimi Hendrix: “‘Scuse me while I kiss the sky”). The title of the animated Christmas show "Olive, the Other Reindeer", is a mondegreen on "all of the other reindeer", a line from the classic Christmas song "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer".