Lady Mondegreen

Do you know what a mondegreen is?

It’s a fancy name for when you get the lyrics to a song or a phrase of verse wrong. Yes, we’ve all done it πŸ˜‰ .

The name mondegreen came about from American writer Sylvia Wright who coined the term based on a childhood misunderstanding. Her mother used to recite the poem Percy’s Reliques and this is what Sylvia heard:

Ye Highlands and ye Lowlands,
Oh, where hae ye been?
They hae slain the Earl O’ Moray,
And Lady Mondegreen.

The last line was supposed to be ‘And laid him on the green’.

They had a Lady Mondegreen segment on the now defunct Spicks and Specks (why do they get rid of all the good shows?) where the contestents had to guess the song based on the mondegreen.

Someone thought that ‘there’s a bad moon on the rise’ by Creedence Clearwater Revival was ‘there’s a bathroom on the right!’

You get the picture.

When praying the Lord’s Prayer as a little girl I was known to say ‘Our Father, who aren’t in heaven, hello be thy name’. This would crack my brothers and sister up and Mum would tell them to leave the room.

Have you got a mondegreen you would like to share.

45 thoughts on “Lady Mondegreen

  1. When I was very small, Maybe I was about four, I did not understand the word ‘vote’ and the only thing I could think of that my parents were saying was ‘boat’. We lived in an outer suburb which used to be an isolated village, nowhere from the sea, and the voting booth was the very, very old historical courthouse (a little brick building, at that time in the middle of vacant lots). So when I accompanied my parents ‘to vote’, which I at least worked out was a very serious business, I thought they were going into this little building to somehow ‘pretend they were in a boat’. The building did resemble a boat, to a child with imagination. At least I could have happily played boats in there.

    But we never saw what they were doing, because my brother and I were instructed to stay outside and play until my parents came out again. It made no sense to me at all as I had never heard of ‘boat’ used as a verb. Obviously if they did try to explain it to me, the explanation went way over my head.


    1. bwhahahaha – of course you thought they were doing something with boats (I remember thinking voting or whatever the adults were talking about, was very mysterious – how they went into the building while we waited outside – had no idea what they were up to, but it was obviously very important) πŸ™‚ thanks for sharing d

  2. Six weeks ago we adopted a 3-yr-old labradoodle who, I think, may have had a lonely life with his first (too-often absent) owner. He’s a total joy to have, but also has serious separation anxiety ‘issues’. It’s wonderful to be so loved, but even so…. Maybe this is a side effect of having such a loving disposition? Our ‘Walle’ is brown, and had his summer haircut a few weeks ago, so isn’t looking as poodly as yours, but did look very similar when we first got him. (Our childhood prayers contained several Lady Mondegreens, but I can’t remember a single one right now.)

    1. Hi Chartreuse. I think it is the poodle part of them that is so sooky (I’ve heard of it referred to in more derogatory terms) and not much you can do about it – part of the personality. I hardly ever leave the house for more than 3 hours at a time, and that is not every day. We get the summer haircuts too (almost a complete shave) – that photo was taken last year.

  3. a b c d e f g
    h i j k l
    a minnow p….
    haha. its what i thought the alphabet rhyme thingy was. even tho i knew the alphabet haha, i mean the letters but that rhyme to me as a gradeschool kid wasnt about individual letters as much as rhythm haha. thanks, i laughed reading this!

  4. I don’t think this really qualifies, but I heard a tale of three little lads who were playing the part of the kings in a school nativity. They each offered their gifts, one by one, and solemnly announced what they had brought.

    First lad – “I bring gold.”

    Second lad – “I bring myrrh.”

    Third lad – “Frank sent this.”

  5. In The Israelites by Desmond Dekker I always thought he sang “My wife and my kids they feck off and they leave me”. Perhaps he did?

    I think Lady Mondegreen is a great name for a lethargic Labradoodle.

    1. Bwhahaha – I just had a listen on youtube and it does sound like that (but something ruder than feck – haha) – the lyrics are ‘Mi wife an’ ma kids they pack up an’a leave me’ apparently. That does make a good name for my labradoodle (bit of a mouthful down the park but – ‘come back Lady Mondegreen you stupid …’ Thanks Rog for the laugh.

  6. Sheba is a cute looking dog! I think Mondegreen would be a good name for a dog too though…. I must know some mondegreens, but i can’t remember any!

  7. I have to many Mondegreen, I could write a book probably and it must be the same for all the people who interact in English when it is not their mother tong.
    Sometimes it is very funny, sometimes it is embarrassing…
    It is a nice name for it!
    Sheba is lovely!

    1. It is a lovely name Mondegreen (rolls off the tongue). Sheba doesn’t always look that good, especially when the wool gets to long, but she looks beautiful in that picture – we had an impromptu picnic in the back garden πŸ™‚

  8. There’s one in Beverly Cleary’s children’s book “Ramona the Pest” where Ramona misunderstands a line from the American national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner” that is written “oh, say, can you see/by the dawn’s early light” which Ramona hears as “by the dawnzer’s lee light.” It takes place in fiction, but I suspect that Cleary heard a real child say it, probably her own. It definitely resonates with real experiences. I know I got all kinds of things muddled in my mind as a child. Come to think of it, tis still an issue …. Well, I’m a child at heart.

  9. ‘God save our SPACIOUS Queen.’
    ‘Long to RAIN over us.’

    Sung religiously at 9.05am every school morning. Often mimed [who’d know?]

    God’s not in heaven and his name is Hello. I knew it!! πŸ˜‰

    1. Bwahahahaha, gigglesnort and guffaw πŸ˜‰ Hichens would agree (but now he’s dead, maybe not) – who knows. Thanks for making me laugh Lily and for stopping by and commenting (and retweeting) – now pass me a favourite – hahahaha – I like the miniature kitkats and the turkish delights. Merry Christmas πŸ™‚

  10. ‘Jimi Hendrix classic: β€œβ€¦ β€˜scuse me while I kiss this guy” (the sky).’…oh my…I shouldn’t have had that last beer before listening to that song…I’ve had it wrong all these years? πŸ˜‰

  11. Do you know I can’t remember a single one, from when my children were little – and there were many! Nor of my own, also words of songs which were either drowned out by the music or just too soft and fudgy! I love the Jimi Hendrix one! Lovely post, Gabe!

  12. I think you’re onto something there with the Lord’s Prayer, Gabe, haha (was going to make a comment about Hitch, but you beat me to it :-D) I loved ‘Spicks and Specks’, too.

  13. I was just reminded of this one – “Lemons in the back seat of my cadillac, let me take you there, yeah, yeah” – discovered years later that it’s actually “Heaven is the back seat of my cadillac” – always wondered why he thought that was such an attractive proposition…

  14. I am part of a group of 5 librarians who dine regularly, and we have often discussed mondegreens. A favourite one that one of our group shared comes from the 23rd psalm:
    For β€œSurely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life” is β€œSurely Good Mrs Murphy shall follow me…”
    For β€œmy dwelling place shall be” is β€œmy twirling place shall be”. I rather like the idea of going to a “Twirling” place!

    One of mine that cracked my children up, though it’s not particularly funny really, is from the Bee Gees song I’ve got to get a message to you. The line is:

    One more hour and my life will be through, hold on, hold on …BUT I’D SING One more hour and my life will be through, oh la, oh la. Made sense to me!

  15. hi Gabe. i followed a link from Brad Frederiksen to this post. thought i’d contribute – better late than never, huh?
    when i was a small boy, my parents would sometimes go to what i thought were ‘hawaiian cheese’ evenings (well it WAS the very early 70s). i wondered what the deal was with this exotic food, & why they never brought back even a tiny piece for us to try. imagine my disappointment when i discovered it was just plain old ‘wine & cheese’. i filed the whole thing under ‘weirdly ineplicable stuff that grownups do’ – after all, who in their right mind would get all dressed up to go & drink that yucky stuff? although i quite liked cheese.
    on the plus side, we got to have a babysitter, & my mother would give us all a lipstick kiss…

    1. hahahaha – boring adults for sure πŸ™‚ – at least they could have dressed in grass skirts and with strings of flowers round their necks. Thanks for stopping by brucedorlorva and for your mondegreen. I must check on Brad to see what he’s up to πŸ˜‰

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