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Off topic: Pursuant to Martin Hesse's forum... it's mondegreens
Thread poster: Catherine Bolton

Catherine Bolton  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:00
Italian to English
+ ...
Jul 27, 2004

Martin's very funny forum
reminded me of mondegreens. Haven't thought about them in a while! So just for a laugh on a hot summer afternoon, here's an explanation, plus a few examples. Does anyone have any other good ones?

This is from

Origins: The term 'mondegreen' — representing a series of words resulting from the mishearing of a statement or song lyric — is generally attributed to Sylvia Wright, who is credited with coining the neologism in a 1954 Harper's column. Ms. Wright was chagrined to discover that for many years she had misunderstood the last line of the first stanza in the Scottish folk ballad "The Bonny Earl of Murray," which reads:

Ye Highlands and ye Lawlands,
Oh! Where ha'e ye been:
They ha'e slain the Earl of Murray,
And they laid him on the Green.

Ms. Wright misheard this stanza as:

Ye Highlands and ye Lawlands,
Oh! Where ha'e ye been:
They ha'e slain the Earl of Murray,
And Lady Mondegreen.

From the disappearance of Sylvia Wright's tragic heroine, Lady Mondegreen, came the term for describing unconventional interpretations or understandings of oral repetition, usually in the form of song lyrics.

For more of these:
the girl with colitis goes by...
You know, from the famous Beatles song (the girl with kaleidoscope eyes).

And from Jimi Hendrix, "'scuse me while I kiss this guy" ("'scuse me while I kiss the sky").


Paul Lambert  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:00
French to English
+ ...
Reminds me of . . . Jul 27, 2004

my dad, who misinterpreted the Joe Bassin line:

Guantanamera, guajira Guantanamera


'Once in a mirror, I've seen her once in a mirror'

Still makes me laugh to this day.

Or my friend Vicki who heard the chorus of Meatloaf's 'Bat Out Of Hell' as:

'Like a battery hen I'll be gone when the morning comes'.

Makes you wonder!!!!!


Stefanie Sendelbach  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:00
Member (2003)
English to German
+ ...
Ricky Martin Jul 27, 2004

Still not sure here whether Ricky Martin's girl in 'She bangs' actually looks like a flower and 'stings like a bee' or 'stinks like a beast'icon_wink.gif


Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:00
German to English
Here's a web site Jul 27, 2004

The ants are my friend, they're blowin' in the wind.



Bruce Popp  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:00
French to English
a couple more Jul 27, 2004

a hymn title: Gladly the Cross-Eyed Bear
from the Our Father: and lead us not into Penn Station


Catherine Bolton  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:00
Italian to English
+ ...
out of lyrics, into prayers Jul 27, 2004

Bruce, I like your Penn Station prayer!
I remember my little brother learning the Act of Contrition so he could make his first confession.
For those of you who aren't Catholic and may not be familiar with it, the prayer starts:
"O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee".

In my brother's version, this became:
"O my God, I am partly sorry..."

And then there's the US Pledge of Allegiance:

I pledge allegiance to the flag
of the United States of America
and to the republic of Richard Stands [read: for which it stands]....


Local time: 13:00
Member (2002)
French to English
+ ...

Moderator of this forum
one more prayer + one more anthem Jul 27, 2004

As a child, my friend's mother went sometimes to French Mass, soemtimes to English Mass. They spoke mainly French at home.
Instead of "Pray for us", whe would say "bête féroce" - ferocious beast.icon_lol.gif

And we've all heard the joke about the little Mexican boy, perched on a flagpole to enjoy the baseball game without paying admission, who thinks the American people are so friendly because they begin the game with a song: Jose, can you see?icon_lol.gif



Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:00
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
One more song, one more hymn Jul 27, 2004

The fifties pop song "I'm a One-Girl Guy" was misheard as "I'm a Wan Girl Guide".

And when my daughter was about three, she used to sing "Away in a manger" with the first verse ending "The little Malteser lay down his sweet head". (the little Lord Jesus) But Malteser goes better with sweet, doesn't it?


Susana Galilea  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:00
English to Spanish
+ ...
finally clear... Jul 28, 2004

"gonna use my sidestep"!!! I swear I always heard "gonna use my senses"icon_rolleyes.gif

This seems as good a place as any to post the lyrics to Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody", seeing as the only part I was ever able to make out was the "Galileo Galileo" bit (I was in high school at the time, you can imagine the teasing...)

Words and music by freddie mercury

Is this the real life-
Is this just fantasy-
Caught in a landslide-
No escape from reality-
Open your eyes
Look up to the skies and see-
I’m just a poor boy,i need no sympathy-
Because I’m easy come,easy go,
A little high,little low,
Anyway the wind blows,doesn’t really matter to me,
To me

Mama,just killed a man,
Put a gun against his head,
Pulled my trigger,now he’s dead,
Mama,life had just begun,
But now I’ve gone and thrown it all away-
Mama ooo,
Didn’t mean to make you cry-
If I’m not back again this time tomorrow-
Carry on,carry on,as if nothing really matters-

Too late,my time has come,
Sends shivers down my spine-
Body’s aching all the time,
Goodbye everybody-I’ve got to go-
Gotta leave you all behind and face the truth-
Mama ooo- (any way the wind blows)
I don’t want to die,
I sometimes wish I’d never been born at all-

I see a little silhouetto of a man,
Scaramouche,scaramouche will you do the fandango-
Thunderbolt and lightning-very very frightening me-
Galileo galileo
Galileo figaro-magnifico-
But I’m just a poor boy and nobody loves me-
He’s just a poor boy from a poor family-
Spare him his life from this monstrosity-
Easy come easy go-,will you let me go-
Bismillah! no-,we will not let you go-let him go-
Bismillah! we will not let you go-let him go
Bismillah! we will not let you go-let me go
Will not let you go-let me go
Will not let you go let me go
Mama mia,mama mia,mama mia let me go-
Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me,for me,for me-

So you think you can stone me and spit in my eye-
So you think you can love me and leave me to die-
Oh baby-can’t do this to me baby-
Just gotta get out-just gotta get right outta here-

Nothing really matters,
Anyone can see,
Nothing really matters-,nothing really matters to me,

Any way the wind blows....

[Edited at 2004-07-28 05:31]


Richard Benham  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:00
German to English
+ ...
Devil put aside??? Jul 28, 2004

"Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me,for me,for me-"

I always thought it was a "devil motorcycle"--after all how does he escape otherwise?

Which reminds me. There is a Scorpions song "Inheritance", which I always thought started:

Never meant
Bloody money
When it's lent."

But the OFFICIAL Scorpions website gives it as

"Test the mend
Devil melt
Bloody money
When it's lent."

Neither version makes much sense, but mine makes a lot more sense, and at least has something to do with the title, and the rest of the song, in which someone is puruing the narrator for a debt.

Here's a couple more.

When my daughter was two years old and we were driving in the car, she asked me, "What street is this?", and I replied "It's Nottage Terrace", prompting her to ask, "Well what is it then?"

She also once asked, "What's an Ota?", and to her mother's question, "Why do you ask?", she said "They're advertising toy ones on the TV!"

Repeat six times very quickly:
I chased the bug around the hill.
I'll have his blood; he knows I will!

In Australian schools, kids used to have to recite an oath of allegiance which ended, "and I promise cheerfully to obey her laws". My high-school English teacher, who grew up when Ben Chifley was Prime Minister, said that he thought he was promising Chifley to obey the laws of Australia.


Catherine Bolton  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:00
Italian to English
+ ...
My little brother (again) Jul 28, 2004

Shouldn't call him that, since he's 6'2, but here goes anyway.
When he was about 3, one morning my mother asked him, "Would you like an egg for breakfast?"
"No, Mommy, I want two neggs."

And people think English is easy, eh?


Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:00
German to English
My brother called them "deggs" Jul 28, 2004

When I asked him about this, he said "fry deggs, scramble deggs, boil deggs."


Catherine Bolton  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:00
Italian to English
+ ...
Neggs and deggs Jul 28, 2004

Maybe we should arrange for our brothers to meet!icon_wink.gif


Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:00
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
First World War eggs Jul 28, 2004

We had bound volumes of Punch going back to about 1875 in our school library. The following joke is from about 1915.
(You need to know that in Scottish dialect, "one" is "ane" and "two" is "twa")

First Scottish soldier: How d'ye ask for eggs in French?

Second Scottish soldier: Och, it's easy. Egg is "oof". Ane egg is "ane oof". If ye want twa, ye ask for "twa oofs", he'll give ye three, and ye give him ane back."

[Edited at 2004-07-30 01:41]


Local time: 18:00
English to Spanish
+ ...
What were the soldiers really doing? Jul 29, 2004

I know what they meant was "passing by", but their pronunciation was not brilliant. Listen to Scorpions' 'Winds of Change'. I cannot say what it sounds like as we are not supposed to use offensive language

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