World of the Day: Mondegreen

My first misheard lyric came at the age of six, when I learned to sing "Row, Row Your Boat." I was convinced that the line after "merrily merrily merrily" was "life's a butter dream". I wasn't sure what dairy products had to do with a boat trip, but I didn't have the courage to ask.

The term "mondegreen" was coined by Sylvia Wright in a 1954 Atlantic article. As a child, young Sylvia had listened to a folk song that included the lines "They had slain the Earl of Moray/And Lady Mondegreen."

As is customary with misheard lyrics, she didn't realize her mistake for years. The song was not about the tragic fate of Lady Mondegreen, but the continuing plight of the earl: "They had slain the Earl of Moray/And laid him on the green."

Mondegreens can be found in every area of the spoken word.
Find more here. And see Pompatus of Love for a great story.

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