Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Betes Noire and Mondegreens

What really gets you going but not in a nice,
hold me tight, sort of way?
Those bugbears to be avoided if at all possible, objects of
aversion; let's not hold back - the bane of one's existence.
Everyone has a word for it from the Danish banemand, through
the Swedish vildsvin, to the Russian zupel.  Even the Manx
language has the word ard-ghwoaieid the pronunciation of which
the inhabitants of the Isle of Man regard as their own anathema.

I've just spotted something worse than socks with sandals
What's yours?  Is it the chaos caused by screaming children as you
try to navigate the busy supermarket aisles on a Saturday morning;
the sound of nails scraping down a blackboard; the task of cleaning
out a litter tray (you don't get that with a dog); or could it be the
sight of your other half wearing socks with his sandals yet again?

My personal bloodboiler is people who use expressions or phrases
which they have obviously picked up somewhere along life's way
and got totally wrong - Mondegreens.

Will the real Lady Mondegreen please show herself.

The term is fairly new and was coined by the American writer
Sylvia Wright who, as a child, misheard the words of the Scottish
ballad "The Bonny Earl of Murray" which goes as follows.
Feel free to sing along if the fancy takes you.

Ye highlands - ye lowlands
Oh where hae ye been?
They hae slay the Earl of Murray
And Lady Mondegreen

The last line of which should have read "And laid him on the green"!


Good old George W. Bush was so adroit at this that
a whole new genre sprang up after him - Bushisms.
"They have miscalculated me as a leader"; "It will take time
to restore chaos and order." (maybe not that far wrong) and my
favourite "The law I sign today directs new funds to the task of
collecting vital intelligence on weapons of mass production."

During a popular television programme for foodies that I was watching last
night I had a really good squirm when the presenter glibly informed
us all that the dish she was preparing was totally "free of addictives"
instead of additives unless of couse she was knocking up a sneaky
batch of "hash-free" brownies.

They still look quite addictive to me.

The all-time best Biblical squirm comes from Psalm 23 in the
shape of the misquoted line, "Surely good Mrs Murphy shall follow
me all the days of my life."
I will leave you with a childhood error of my own;
The very mangled words of a popular war time song
oft sung by my mother as she buffed up her brass.

Mersey does and docie doe's
And little lambs eat ivy.
A kiddley divey doo
Wouldn't you?

Having a break in between verses.


  1. :) And Malapropisms..... I once met someone who was proud to have concocted a 'Chocolate Ghetto'..... We're doing fine and hope you are too, kind lady.

  2. I was 28 years old when I found out little lambs eat ivy.