Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Mondegreen Green Grass of Home

To stick with the theme of yesterday's post about oronyms, very similar to oronyms are mondegreens. While oronyms result from not knowing where one word ends and the next begins in speech, mondegreens usually result from hearing entirely different words that sound similar. And more importantly, the term mondegreen is generally used when referring to song lyrics.

Here are some examples of mondegreens:

Purple Haze by Jimi Hendrix
"Excuse me while I kiss the sky." heard as "Excuse me while I kiss this guy."
Bad Moon Rising by Creedence Clearwater
"There's a bad moon on the rise." heard as "There's a bathroom on the right."
Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds by The Beatles
"The girl with kaleidoscope eyes." heard as "The girl with colitis goes by."
Higher Love by Steve Winwood
"Bring me a higher love." heard as "Bring me an iron lung."
When The World Is Running Down by The Police
"You make the best of what's still around." heard as "You make the best homemade stew around."
Kodachrome by Paul Simon
"Mama don't take my Kodachrome away." heard as "Mama don't take my clothes 'n' throw 'em away."

If you are wondering how the term mondegreen came to be used for this phenomenon, it dates back to a 1954 Harper magazine column by Sylvia Wright. Wright had always believed that the last line of the first stanza in the Scottish folk ballad The Bonny Earl of Murray was: "And Lady Mondegreen." when in actuality it is: "And they laid him on the Green." So thanks to Sylvia Wright we have the word mondegreen.


Tanya said...

Interesting article - once again - but I think the Hendrix song goes something like "'Scuse Me while I kiss the sky"!

Tanya said...

And I use to think the Til Tuesday song, Voices Carry - was "Oh So Scary"

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