Tag Archives: confused words

What in the World is a Mondegreen?

Unknown

Have you ever discovered lyrics that were not what you originally thought you heard? You misinterpret a phrase that sounds very similar to the real deal, but your interpretation gives it a new meaning, one that may raise eyebrows. That, dear readers, is a Mondegreen.

The name was coined in 1954 by author Sylvia Wright, who misheard the lyrics of an old Scottish ballad; she thought these were the words:

Ye Highlands and ye Lowlands,
Oh, where hae ye been?
They hae slain the Earl o’ Moray,
And Lady Mondegreen.

In fact, the last line is And laid him on the green.

Here are some other Mondegreens:

the girl with colitis goes by (the girl with kaleidoscope eyes, from “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”)

There’s a bathroom on the right (There’s a bad moon on the rise, from “Bad Moon Rising”)

Surely, good Mrs. Murphy shall follow me all the days of my life. A more common reading of the 23rd Psalm includes the line, Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.

When I was very young, a popular singer named Patti Page recorded a song called “Cross Over the Bridge.” It contains the line, Leave your fickle past behind you, and true romance will find you…. I was just discovering love songs on the radio and had no idea what “fickle” meant. To my ears, Patti Page was singing, Leave your pickle pats behind you….

I still wonder what pickle pats had to do with true romance. And what are pickle pats, anyway? Send me your own Mondegreens. I bet you all have at least one.

2 Comments

Filed under All things having to do with the English language

Spoonerisms

Unknown

I recently bought a book titled Um. It deals with verbal blunders people make, particularly in their speech. According to the author, Michael Erard, we commit a verbal blunder about once in every 10 words. Who knew?

No doubt you’ve heard of Spoonerisms, named (in 1885) for the Reverend William Archibald Spooner, of Oxford University. This man had an alarming propensity for mixing up the initial sounds of words. Until I read this book, I always thought that was the extent of a Spoonerism, but in addition the blooper has to result in a phrase that is inappropriate for the situation.

For example, Spooner was toasting Queen Victoria at a dinner and told the guests, “Give three cheers for our queer old dean!” He also admonished a student: “You have hissed all my mystery lectures. In fact, you have tasted two whole worms, and you must leave Oxford this afternoon by the next town drain.”

Spooner was aware of his tendency to tangle his words. He referred to his “transpositions of thought,” and at the conclusion of a talk he gave to alumni, he said, “And now I suppose I’d better sit down, or I might be saying—er—one of those things.”

Leave a comment

Filed under All things having to do with the English language

Ten More Commonly Misused Phrases

Unknown 

Here are some more phrases that sound almost right—but aren’t. Check to see if any belong to you:

  1. For all intensive purposes   It’s for all intents and purposes.
  1. One in the same should be one and the same.
  1. Make due  Nope. You need to make do. Make what you have do what you need.
  1. By in large is by and large.
  1. Do diligence is not something done. You want due diligence.
  1. Peak one’s interest  This has nothing to do with height. It has to do with pique, sharpening your interest.
  1. Shoe in? This has nothing to do with footwear. It’s shoo in, the way you would shoo your cat inside at night.
  1. Extract revenge. Nothing is being removed. You are going to exact revenge.
  1. Doggy-dog world.  You’re describing a highly competitive situation, which is a dog-eat-dog world.

 

  1. Supposably   No such word. You want supposedly.

Leave a comment

Filed under All things having to do with the English language

More Typos From Abroad

Unknown

Or since I’m writing this, perhaps the subject line should be More Typos From a Broad. Either way, here is some midweek entertainment—along with a reminder to proofread everything you write.

Please leave your values at the front desk. (Sign in a Paris elevator)

Before entering this mosque: Please remove your shoes. Please remove your socks. Please remove your hat. Thank you for your co-ordination. (Sign in Istanbul mosque)

Guests are requested to be as quiet a possible in their rooms after 11 pm so as not to disturb the quest in the other room. (Swedish hotel)

When You Are Engulfed in Flames (Name of a hilarious David Sedaris book, title based on a sign he saw in an elevator, educating guests what to do in case of fire)

Come Fartably Numb (Song title on pirated Pink Floyd CD, Hong Kong)

Leave a comment

Filed under All things having to do with the English language

Six Frequently Misused Words

See If you’ve been using any of these words incorrectly: 1. Peruse Incorrect: to skim over reading material Correct: to review carefully 2. Compelled Incorrect: to feel as if you need to do something Correct: to be forced to do something 3. Bemused Incorrect: amused Correct: confused 4. Travesty Incorrect: a tragedy or unfortunate event Correct: a parody or mockery 5. Ironic Incorrect: a funny coincidence Correct: not what you’d expect 6. Penultimate Incorrect: the last Correct: next to last

Leave a comment

Filed under All things having to do with the English language

What Some People Do to the English Language!

In case you’ve been thinking you aren’t particularly eloquent, read the following quotations. You’ll recover your self-confidence immediately. Thanks to my friend Jill J. for sending me these howlers.
(On September 17, 1994, Alabama’s Heather Whitestone was selected as Miss America 1995.)Question: If you could live forever, would you and why?
Answer: “I would not live forever, because we should not live forever, because if we were supposed to live forever, then we would live forever, but we cannot live forever, which is why I would not live forever.”
–Miss Alabama in the 1994 Miss  USA contest.
,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

“Whenever I watch TV and see those poor starving kids all over the world, I can’t help but cry. I mean I’d love to be skinny like that, but not with all those flies and death and stuff.”
–Mariah Carey
,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

“Smoking kills. If you’re killed, you’ve lost a very important part of your life,”
— Brooke Shields, during an interview to become spokesperson for a Federal anti-smoking campaign
,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

“I’ve never had major knee surgery on any other part of my body.”
–Winston Bennett,  University   of  Kentucky   basketball forward.
,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

“Outside of the killings, Washington has one of the lowest crime rates in the country.”
–Mayor Marion Barry,  Washington, DC
,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

“That lowdown scoundrel deserves to be kicked to death by a jackass, and I’m just the one to do it.”
–A Congressional candidate in  Texas
,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

“Half this game is ninety percent mental.”
–Philadelphia Phillies manager Danny Ozark
,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

“It isn’t pollution that’s harming the environment. It’s the impurities in our air and water that are doing it.”
–Al Gore, Vice President
,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

“I love  California. I practically grew up in Phoenix.”
— Dan Quayle
,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

“We’ve got to pause and ask ourselves: How much clean air do we need?”
–Lee Iacocca
,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

“The word “genius” isn’t applicable in football. A genius is a guy like Norman Einstein.”
–Joe Theisman, NFL football quarterback and sports analyst.
,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

“We don’t necessarily discriminate. We simply exclude certain types of people.”
— Colonel Gerald Wellman, ROTC Instructor.
,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

“Your food stamps will be stopped effective March 1992 because we received notice that you passed away. May God bless you. You may reapply if there is a change in your circumstances.”
–Department of Social Services, Greenville , South Carolina
,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

“Traditionally, most of Australia’s imports come from overseas.”
–Keppel Enderbery
,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,”If somebody has a bad heart, they can plug this jack in at night as they go to bed and it will monitor their heart throughout the night. And the next morning, when they wake up dead, there’ll be a record.”
–Mark S. Fowler, FCC Chairman

Leave a comment

Filed under All things having to do with the English language

Transpire

Most people think “transpire” means “to happen or occur,” as in,”The community was very curious about what transpired at the closed-door Board of Education meeting.”

In fact, it means “to leak out.” Surprised? Stick around because in not too many years today’s misconception about the meaning of “transpire” will have become standard through common usage.

Leave a comment

Filed under All things having to do with the English language