Did you know that the symbol some of us grew up calling the number sign, and that Americans for some reason call a pound sign, and which has become globally know as the hashtag symbol, is in fact called an octothorpe? And while the “octo-” part is easy enough to understand, no-one knows for sure where the “thorpe” part came from.
A mondegreen/ˈmɒndɪɡriːn/ is a mishearing or misinterpretation of a phrase in a way that gives it a new meaning. Mondegreens are most often created by a person listening to a poem or a song; the listener, being unable to clearly hear a lyric, substitutes words that sound similar and make some kind of sense. American writer Sylvia Wrightcoined the term in 1954, writing that as a girl, when her mother read to her from Percy’s Reliques , she had misheard the lyric “layd him on the green” in the fourth line of the Scottish ballad “The Bonny Earl of Murray” as “Lady Mondegreen”.
Ye Highlands and ye Lowlands,
Oh, where hae ye been?
They hae slain the Earl o’ Moray,
And Lady Mondegreen.
The correct fourth line is, “And laid him on the green”. Wright explained the need for a new term:
The point about what I shall hereafter call mondegreens, since no one else has thought up a word for them, is that they are better than the original.
I was so happy to learn about Mondegreens as I’m notorious for mishearing lyrics especially when the singer doesn’t annunciate clearly.
Used to think Macy Grey sang “I wore goggles when you are not near” rather than the correct “My world crumbles when you are not near”
Comedian Peter Kay effectively uses Mondegreens with hilarious results