Tuesday, July 15, 2008

There's a Word for That

And it's mondegreen.

When we hear Jimi Hendrix sing, "'scuse me while I kiss this guy," or John Fogarty croon, "there's a bathroom on the right," we're creating a mondegreen: "a word or phrase that results from a mishearing of something said or sung."

Mondegreen was first coined by author Sylvia Wright in 1954 in Atlantic magazine, when she confessed to a childhood misinterpretation of the Scottish ballad 'The Bonny Earl of Moray.' When she first heard the lyric "they had slain the Earl of Moray and had laid him on the green," she felt terribly sorry for the "poor Lady Mondegreen."

Mondegreen made MW's new words for 2008, and to celebrate, it's collecting mondegreens through July 25, after which time it will publish the best of them.

The only one that occurs to me offhand is the one that puzzled me for years (until the internet cleared it up), part of the lyrics to Bruce Springsteen's "Blinded by the Light" as performed by Manfred Mann's Earth Band, which sounded to me like "wrapped up like a douche in the middle of the night."

The real lyrics, apparently, are "cut loose like a deuce, another runner in the night."

I'm not sure that I'm any less puzzled by the real lyrics.

What's your mondegreen?


Alanna said...

"My roof's got a hole in it FIVE MILES LONG" instead of "and I might drown." Ha!


Bitty said...

Which song? ;)

(That's funny. You should submit it.)

Brave Sir Robin said...

I couldn't figure out why Elton John would sing a song about "Hominy"

Brave Sir Robin said...

Or for that matter, why would Neil Diamond write a song about "Reverend" Blue Jeans.

kkryno said...

Why would The Eagles want to mention "Life Without Vaseline", let alone write a song about it!

Alanna said...

My brother always wondered why the song said: "We are the boys of Wexford who fight for liver tea!"


Bee said...

I LOVE the fact that there is a word for that! And thank you for finally clearing up (sort of) the mysterious lyric of that Manfred Mann song. I always heard "douche," too.

seventh sister said...

I had no idea that mondegreen was a 'new' word. I have been hearing it for years. Of course the song with them most mondegreens would have to be Louie Louie. It was even banned in some areas because the lyrics were thought to be obscene. This is a funny article on it.