Monday, June 12, 2006

Mondegreen - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

I'm sure we each have more than a few of our own... Just like the word.

Mondegreen - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "Mondegreen
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A mondegreen (also sometimes spelled 'mondagreen') is the mishearing (usually accidental) of a phrase, such that it acquires a new meaning.

The word 'mondegreen' is itself a mondegreen. The American writer Sylvia Wright coined it in an essay 'The Death of Lady Mondegreen', which was published in Harper's Magazine in Nov. 1954. She wrote

When I was a child, my mother used to read aloud to me from Percy's Reliques. One of my favorite poems began, as I remember:

Ye Highlands and ye Lowlands,
Oh, where hae ye been?
They hae slain the Earl Amurray, [sic]
And Lady Mondegreen.

The actual line is 'And laid him on the green', from the anonymous 17th century ballad 'The Bonnie Earl O' Murray'. Wright gives other examples of what she says 'I shall hereafter call mondegreens', such as:

* Surely Good Mrs. Murphy shall follow me all the days of my life ('Surely goodness and mercy…' from Psalm 23)

* the 'wild, strange battle cry Haffely, Gaffely, Gaffely, Gonward.' ('Half a league, half a league,/ Half a league onward,' from 'The Charge of the Light Brigade')

The columnist Jon Carroll of the San Francisco Chronicle has long been a popularizer of the term and a collector of mondegreens. He may have been the chief link between Wright's work and the general popularity of the notion today.

While mondegreens are a common occurrence for children, many adults have their own collection, particularly with regard to popular music.

A popular joke has a child being asked what God's first name is, and he replies, 'Andy.' He gets this name from the hymn In The Garden (a.k.a. 'I Come To The Garden Alone': 'Andy walks with me, Andy talks with me, Andy tells me I am his own...' as opposed to, 'And he walks with me...'

Billy Connolly described several mondegreens he sang in church as a child:

* We will be tootle-ootle den ('We will be true to thee till death' from Faith of our fathers)
* A wean in a manger ('Away in a Manger' using the Scottish word for a baby)"


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