Posted by: episystechpubs | November 7, 2014

Editor’s Corner: Lady Marmalade and Lady Mondegreen

(Originally posted September 26, 2014)

Happy Friday!

Yes, 99 percent of you have heard my spiel on mondegreens, but for those of you who have joined recently, here is a little more information on the history of the word, from Wikipedia:

A mondegreen is the mishearing or misinterpretation of a phrase as a result of near-homophony, 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 Wright coined the term in her essay "The Death of Lady Mondegreen," published in Harper’s Magazine in November 1954.

In the essay, Wright described how, as a young girl, she misheard the last line of the first stanza from the 17th-century ballad "The Bonnie Earl o’ Moray." She wrote:

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

Ye Highlands and ye Lowlands,

Oh, where hae ye been?

They hae slain the Earl o’ Moray,

And Lady Mondegreen.

The actual 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."

Now for this Friday’s sampling from Hit Me with Your Pet Shark: Misheard Lyrics of the 1980s, by Charles Grosvenor Jr.

Here are your lyrics for today. I have to say, some of the actual lyrics are odder than the misheard ones!

Song Title Artist/Group Mondegreen Actual Lyrics
When the Going Gets Tough Billy Ocean Go and get stuffed When the going gets tough
Total Eclipse of the Heart Bonnie Tyler Love is like a shadow on an elephant’s eye Your love is like a shadow on me all of the time
Bad Medicine Bon Jovi Your love is like bad venison You love is like bad medicine
Brilliant Disguise Bruce Springsteen Is that you, baby, or just a pig in this pie? Is that you, baby, or just a brilliant disguise?
Dancing in the Dark Bruce Springsteen My sister’s kicking the bleeder Messages keep getting clear
Drive The Cars Who’s gonna plug my ears

when you sing?

Who’s gonna plug their ears

when you scream?

Should I Stay or Should I Go? The Clash This indecision’s bugging me
(indecision named Molester)
This indecision’s bugging me
(la indecisión me molesta)
The Magnificent Seven The Clash Eskimo pets Eskimo pence
Rock the Casbah The Clash Rock the cat box Rock the casbah
The Caterpillar The Cure Oh I toss my leather gloves
Where Power Pig can see
Oh I dust my lemon lies
With powder pink and sweet
Pour Some Sugar on Me Def Leppard Possum sugar omelet Pour some sugar on me
Rock of Ages Def Leppard Yopen leapin’ mountain woman Gunter glieben glauchen globen
The Reflex Duran Duran The reflex is in charge of finding treasure in the dog The reflex is in charge of finding treasure in the dark
Hungry Like the Wolf Duran Duran Seen in the subway:
Earth, Wind, and Fire
Steam in the subway
Earth is afire

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