Mondegreen- Say What???
Happy September! Though it is still hot, I sense a certain crisp in the air that coincides with the beginning of the school year. Only two in University now, and fortunately, my tutoring skills are no match for their written assignments, so I am left to my Muse.
I must confess that I suffer a terrible addiction to words coupled with a borderline obsession on the subject of communication. Always have and always will. We come out of the womb able to hear and wail, but it takes a lifetime to learn to listen, understand, and clearly communicate.
We, as humans, have developed spoken, written, and even sign language specifically for this purpose. It is one of the qualities that make us unique in the animal kingdom. Though a Parrot can replicate human speech, does it really understand, in its birdbrain, what it is that it is uttering? The jury is out on that.
Now I know that my dog, Bubba, can hear and understand many of the things I say to him- especially if I am dangling a piece of salami in close proximity. He can sit, stay, speak, lay down, shake hands, get the red ball and find the blue toy, but he lacks the ability to articulate his thoughts in any manner outside of barking, growling, panting, howling, tail wagging, and of course the pleading puppy eyes. Poor guy does the best he can with the tools he has.
Koko the Gorilla has mastered sign language ( 1000 word vocabulary! ) and has even developed the ability to alter the truth- my favorite example was when she blamed her kitten for tearing the sink out of the wall, yet she cannot speak with her vocal chords.
So, not only are we blessed with the ability to listen, hear and speak, but also, and most importantly, blessed with the ability to understand- but sometimes the message is not received as intended. I was made well aware of this phenomenon as the little sister of two older brothers growing up in the 70's. Ahhhh the music was so good. And though my hearing was better then than it is now, I would often hear different lyrics than the actual lyrics sung. My brothers would burst out laughing when I would sing the lyrics I thought to be correct; as though the sound was similar the meaning was not. My lyrics made sense to me ( heck maybe they were even better than the originals sometimes ) but they were not accurate. Oftentimes the outcomes were hilarious.
I am of the firm conviction that sometimes it is difficult to perceive what we are unfamiliar with. For example, if my husband is looking for the scissors, and they are not where they should be ( in the cabinet where we keep the dog food ), he won't see them, even if they are lying on the counter just to the right of the cabinet, which he has to pass in order to get to the cabinet. Two of our children have the same issue, while the other two do not. He is a visual guy and I am an auditory gal. I suffer the same perception deception, but mine manifests in an auditory manner. I often cannot hear human speech if there is background noise, and my mind, like spell check, will try to predict the intention- or at least come up with something that makes sense- but many times has little relation to what was actually spoken.
I am always amused when this happens. Here is one of my favorite examples. My friend's daughter and my twin boys were born six weeks apart, and we spent many hours enjoying each other's company. My twins are named Robert and Gilbert, and though Hilary was familiar with the name Robert, she had not heard the name Gilbert, so to Hilary, at age three, her friends were Robert and Yogurt. It was so cute, and Gilbert did not mind being referred to as yogurt, since it was on his list of acceptable foods at the time.
Another darling example was when we brought our daughter Roxanne to Mass. She beamed when the choir sang "Hosanna, Hosanna in the highest!" as she heard it to be "Roxanna, Roxanna in the highest!" Sometimes I think she really took it to heart- jk.
My earliest recollection of this concept was when my mom told me the story about when her mom ( my grandma Frieda ) was a little girl and came home from school very excited that her class was singing a song about her each morning! She thought the "Let Freedom Ring" lyrics in My Country Tis of Thee was "Let Freida Sing", and she was indeed a very musical person, so this made perfect sense to her.
What so fascinates me is that this occurrence is so individual, depending upon the words heard, and by whom they were heard and spoken. Where and when the exchange took place, etc. But, what do we call such a phenomenon? Decades went by, and I never really gave it a thought. Then, while glancing at my dictionary.com word of the day as I do each morning, the answer presented itself! There on my screen was a word I had never seen, nor heard, "Mondegreen." Say what? What could it possibly mean, and how had I missed it, as I do not recall discussing it in any of my Linguistics courses. So, according to www.dictionary.com, the word Mondegreen is "a word or phrase resulting from a misinterpretation of a word or phrase that has been heard." It is itself a "Mondegreen" and here is how it originated:
I borrowed this from a fantastic article from the New Yorker, which I located online during my vast research on the topic, and highly advise you read as it contains great info.
"In November, 1954, Sylvia Wright, an American writer, published a piece in Harpers where she admitted to a gross childhood mishearing. When she was young, her mother would read to her from the Reliques of Ancient English Poetry, a 1765 book of popular poems and ballads. Her favorite verse began with the lines, Ye Highlands and ye Lowlands / Oh, where hae ye been? / They hae slain the Earl Amurray, / And Lady Mondegreen.
She admitted to feeling bad for poor "Lady Mondegreen" ( what about Earl's fate??? ) but the actual words were: " They hae slain the Earl Amurray, and laid him on the green." Fortunately, no ladies were slain in this ballad.
Remember Weird Al Yankovic? He was and is the master of the Mondegreen. I just googled to get his correct name spelling, and I see he is playing at the Greek on the 19th! Now that is one show I would really like to see, but I am not free that day. His version of Michael Jackson's "Beat It" was "Eat It". Pure genius.
So there you have it. I hope you've learned something new this September. Be sure to use it in a sentence at least three times so that you can be comfortable uttering it- and be sure your listeners know that you are talking about a word that means misheard, rather than laying a dead man on the grass- and not a lass :-)
Slow Cooker Hungarian Goulash
3 lbs. beef chuck roast, cut into 1" cubes
5 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/2" diagonals
4 medium red potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4" cubes
16 oz. whole fresh mushrooms, quartered
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 large cloves garlic, minced
4 c. low sodium beef broth
3 T. tomato paste
2 T. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 c. Hungarian sweet paprika
1/4 c. brown sugar
2 tsp. dry mustard
2 tsp. kosher salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Place beef in slow cooker. Cover with carrots, potatoes, mushrooms, onion and garlic. In a medium bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients, and then add to the slow cooker. Stir a bit to combine. Cover and turn heat to high. Cook for 4 to 5 hours, or until beef and veggies are very tender. Serve in bowls with a warm loaf of fresh crusty bread.
A Fun Collection of Mondegreens:
1. ) Bryan Adams- Summer of '69
standing on my momma's porch, the summer'd seem to last forever
starin' at my momma's corpse, the summer'd seem to last forever
2.) Bachman Turner Overdrive- Taking Care of Business
Taking Care of Business
Makin' carrot biscuits
3.) Elton John- Tiny Dancer
Hold me closer tiny dancer
Hold me closer, Tony Danza
4.) Jimi Hendrix- Purple Haze
'Scuse me while I kiss the sky
'Scuse me while I kiss this guy
5.) Beatles- Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds
The girl with kaleidoscope eyes
The girl with colitis goes by
6.) Beatles- Ticket to Ride
She's got a ticket to ride
She's got a tic in her eye
7.) Creedence Clearwater Revival- Bad Moon Rising
There's a bad moon on the rise
There's a bathroom on the right or
There's a baboon on the rise
8.) Billy Squier- The Stroke
Stroke me, stroke me
9.) Deep Purple- Smoke on the Water
Smoke on the water, fire in the sky
Slow walking Walter, the fire engine guy
10.) Simon & Garfunkel- Scarborough Fair
Are you going to Scarborough Fair?
Are you going to starve an old friend?
11.) Player- Baby Come Back
Baby come back, you can blame it all on me.
Baby come back, you can play Monopoly.
12.) Billy Ocean- Carribean Queen
Carribean Queen, now we're sharing the same dreams.
Carryin' beans, now we're sharin' the same jeans.
13.) KC & The Sunshine Band Do A Little Dance
Do a little dance, make a little love, get down tonight, get down tonight.
Do a little dance, make a little rum, Italian Ice! Italian Ice!
14.) Crystal Gale- Brown Eyes Blue
Don't it make my brown eyes blue.
Donuts make my brown eyes blue.
15.) Police- Don't Stand So Close To Me
Don't stand so close to me.
Ghost man so close to me.
16.) Frankie Vallee and the Four Seasons
Got a lot of love between us.
Got a lot of lucky peanuts.
17.) Elton John- Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
So good-bye yellow brick road Where the dogs of society howl.
Good-bye yellow brick road
There's a dark cloud inside of the house.
18.) Beatles - Ob la di
Happy ever after in the market place.
Happy as a rafter in the market place.
19.) Simon & Garfunkel Homeward Bound
Home, where my love lies waiting, silently for me.
Home, where my love lies waiting, Simon, weep for me.
20.) Rolling Stones- Beast of Burden
I'll never be your beast of burden.
I'll never leave your pizza burning.
21.) The Police -Every Step You Take
My poor heart aches.
I'm a pool hall ace.
22.) No Doubt
I'm just a girl.
I'm just a squirrel.
23.) John Ford Collie-Really Love to See You Tonight
I'm not talking 'bout moving in.
I'm not talking 'bout Bolivia.
24.) Rolling Stones -Miss You
I've been holding out so long.
I've been haulin' ass so long.
25.) Patti LaBelle
I've got a new attitude.
I've got a new pair of shoes.
26.) Iron Butterfly-In the Garden of Eden
In the garden of Eden, honey
In-a-gadda-da-vita . . .
I'm the god of Velveeta, honey.
27.) Aretha Franklin Chain of Fools
Chain, chain, chain, chain of fools.
Jay, Jay, Jay; Jay you're cool
28.) Black Oak Arkansas
Jim Dandy to the rescue.
Jim Dandy ate the red stew
29.) The Star Spangled Banner
O, Say can you see?
Jose can you see?
30.) Sting -Love Is Stronger Than Justice
Love is a big, fat river in flood.
Love is a big, fat quivering slug.
31.) Smokey Robinson & The Miracles -I Second That Emotion
I second that emotion.
Stick your head in lotion.
32.) Four Tops - Can't Help Myself
Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch.
Sugar fried honey butt.
33.) Bob Dylan
The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind.
The ants are my friends, they're blowing in the wind.
34.) The Monkees
Then I saw her face, now I'm a believer.
Then I saw her face, now I'm gonna leave her.
35.) The Young Rascals -Groovin
You and me endlessly.
You and me and Leslie.
36.) Oh My Darling Clemintine
You are lost and gone forever
dreadful sorry, Clementine
You have lost your gum forever
dreadful sorry, Clementine.
37.) Billy Joel
You may be right, I may be crazy.
You made the rice, I made the gravy.
38.) Kenny Rogers -Lucille
Actual lyric:You picked a fine time to leave me, Lucille,
four hungry children and a crop in the field.
You picked a fine time to leave me, Lucille,
four hundred children and a crop in the field.
39.) The Beach Boys -Barbara Ann
Actual lyric:Went to a dance, lookin' for romance,
Saw Barbara Ann so I thought I'd take a chance.
Went to a dance, lookin' for a man,
Saw Barbara Ann so I thought I'd take a chance.
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Happy Birthday G-Pa and Princess
Know your terms:
1.) Mondegreen- a word or phrase that is misinterpreted as another word or phrase, usually with an amusing result
2.) Eggcorn- a word or phrase that is a seemingly logical alteration of another word or phrase that sounds similar and has been misheard or misinterpreted, as 'old wise tale' for 'old wives' tale'.
3.) Malapropism- an act or habit of misusing words ridiculously, especially by the confusion of words that are similar in sound..For example: He had to use a fire distinguisher ( extinguisher ). Dad says the monster is a pigment of my imagination. ( figment) Good punctuation means not to be late. ( being punctual ) He's a wolf in cheap clothing ( sheep's ) Michelangelo painted the Sixteenth Chapel ( Sistine.)
4.) Oronym- word strings in which the sounds can be logically divided multiple ways. For example, children might wonder why Olive, the other reindeer, was so mean to Rudolph. ( All of the other reindeer ). It has to do with where the syllables are split- for example a foreigner might become confused as to why, in this country, we entrust weather reports to meaty urologists ( Meteorlogists ). I scream and Ice cream; mint spy and mince pie.
5.) -onym- indicating a name or word
6.) Eponym- a word based on or derived from a person's name, as for example Constantinople from Constantine I
7.) Acronym- a word formed from the initial letters or groups of letters of words in a set phrase or series of words and pronounced as a separate word, as Wac from Women's Army Corps, OPEC from Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, or loran from long-range navigation.
8.) Anonym- an assumed or false name; a less common word for pseudonym. 1812, "nameless person," from French anonyme, from Latin anonymus, from Greek anonymos "without a name" (see anonymous ). Meaning "fictitious name" is recorded from 1866.
9.) Paronym- words formed by a slight change in name, derivative, equivalent, cognate. For example: beautiful and beauteous.
10.) Antonym-a word opposite in meaning to another. Fast is an antonym of slow.
11.) Synonym- a word having the same or nearly the same meaning as another in the language, as happy, joyful, elated.
12.) Metonym- a word used in a metonymy. For example the bottle is a metonym for alcoholic drink
13.) Metonymy- a figure of speech that consists of the use of the name of one object or concept for that of another to which it is related, or of which it is a part, as scepter for sovereignty, or the bottle for strong drink, or count heads (or noses) for count people..
14.) Autoantonym- A word that can take two (or more) opposite meanings; for example fast means "moving quickly" or "fixed firmly in place", overlook means "to watch over carefully" or "to fail to notice"
15.) Aptronym- A person's name that matches it's owner's occupation or character very well (either in fiction or reality); for example: arctic explorer Will Snow, hairdresser Dan Druff.
16.) Bacronym- The reverse of producing an acronym; taking a word which already exists and creating a phrase (usually humorous) using the letters of the word as initials: For example: Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anybody (BANANA), Guaranteed Overnight Delivery (GOD).
17.) Capitonym- A word which changes its meaning and pronunciation when capitalised; For example: polish and Polish, august and August, concord and Concord.
18.) Exonym- A place name used by foreigners that differs from the name used by natives; e.g. Londres is the French exonym for London, Germany is an exonym because Germans call it Deutschland.
19.) Heteronym- One of two (or more) words that have the same spelling, but different meaning, and sometimes different pronunciation too. For example: Please excuse me while I think of an excuse; Hopefully the wind will be strong enough to wind the windmill.
20.) Heterophone- Heteronyms that are pronounced differently
21.) Homonym- One of two (or more) words that have the same pronunciation or spelling, but are different in meaning. (Homonyms which have the same spelling are also heteronyms; homonyms that have the same pronunciation, but different spelling and meaning, are also homophones; and homonyms that have the same spelling but are different in origin, meaning, and pronunciation are also homographs); For example: write and right, way and weigh
22.) Hypernym- A word that has a more general meaning than another; For example: in the relationship between chair and furniture, furniture is a hypernym; in the relationship between horse and animal, animal is a hypernym
23.) Hyponym- 1. A word that refers to a part of what another word refers to; For example:. in the relationship between leg and ankle, ankle is a meronym; in the relationship between brim and hat, brim is a meronym.
2. A term midway between two opposites; For example: flat between convex and concave, present between past and future.
24.) Metronym- A name derived from the name of one's mother, or another female ancestor.
25.) Patronym- A name derived from the name of one's father, or another male ancestor.
26.) Pseudonym- An assumed name, especially by an author; For example: Eric Arthur Blair wrote the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four under the pseudonym George Orwell.
27.) Retronym- An adjective-noun pairing generated by a change in the meaning of the base noun, usually as a result of technological advance; For example: watch became pocket watch due to introduction of wrist watch, pen became fountain pen due to introduction of ball-point pen.
29.) Tautonym- 1. A word composed of two identical parts; For example: pawpaw, yo-yo, tutu, bye-bye.
2. In biological nomenclature, a taxonomic name in which the genus and species names are identical; For example:. puffinus puffinus (manx shearwater), apus apus (common swift).
30.) Toponym- 1. A place name; For example: London, Mount Everest.
2. A word derived from a place name; For example: champagne from Champagne in France, cashmere from Kashmir in India.
31.) Ananym- real name written backwards, For example: Treblig from Gilbert
32.) Caconym- a name, especially a taxonomic name, that is considered linguistically undesirable.
33.) Cohyponym- A word or phrase that shares a hypernym with another word or phrase.
34.) Cryptonym- A secret name; a code name. For example: The spy was known only by his cryptonym, 'shadow'.
35.) Dionym- A name consisting of two terms; a binomial name in zoölogy, as Homo sapiens.
36.) Euonym- A name well suited to a person, place or thing so named. In terminal., a good, proper, or fitting name of anything; a term which conforms to the rules and answers the requirements of a system of naming, and is therefore available as a technical designation: opposed to caconym.
37.) Tekonym- a name for an adult derived from that of a child, especially that of the eldest child
38.) Trionym- A name consisting of three terms; a trinomial name in zoölogy or botany; the name of a subspecies in the trinomial system of nomenclature. See trinomial, n., and trinomialism. For example: Toys "R" Us.
39.) Spoonerisms- are words or phrases in which letters or syllables get swapped. This often happens accidentally in slips of the tongue (or tips of the slung as Spoonerisms are often affectionately called!): For example: Tease my ears ( Ease my tears), A lack of pies ( A pack of lies ), It's roaring with pain ( It's pouring with rain. ) Wave the sails ( Save the whales.)
40.) Oxymorons- A figure of speech in which two words with opposing meanings are used together intentionally for effect. For example: Ever noticed that it's simply impossible to find seriously funny oxymorons online? The only choice is to ask one of those paid volunteers at the library the ones in the long-sleeved T-shirts for an original copy of some obviously obscure documents that were found missing amongst some paperwork almost exactly one hundred years ago.
41.) Pangrams- sentences that use every letter of the alphabet. For example: The quick brown fox jumps over a lazy dog. Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs.How quickly daft jumping zebras vex.
42.) Tongue Twisters- Difficult to pronounce sentences. For example: The sixth sick sheik's sixth sheep's sick. She sells seashells by the sea shore. Freshly fried flying fish.
43.) Mnemonics- devices to help us remember (aide memoire or memory aide). They come in many varieties and flavours, and can aid memorisation of many types of information. This section concentrates on mnemonics related to words and numbers For example: Big Elephants Can Always Understand Small Elephants. ( Because ) A Rat In The House May Eat The Ice Cream. ( Arithmetic ) Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain ( colors of the rainbow- Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet)
I borrowed from www.fun-with-words.com
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