Brigid Daull Brockway is technically a writer

Brigid Daull Brockway is technically a writer

A blog about words, wordplay, and etymology, with slightly more than occasional political rants.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Excuse me while I kiss this guy

I learned recently that there's a word for the phenomenon of thinking that "revved up like a deuce" in Blinded by the Light is "wrapped up like a douche." It's called a mondegreen, according to The New Yorker, a term coined by Sylvia Wright, in reference to the poem The Bonnie Earle of O'Moray, which contains the line "And layd him on the green," which Wright had once heard as And Lady Mondegreen
Related to the mondegreen is the eggcorn: a phrase that is a substitution of one word or phrase for a similar sounding word or phrase - like when people think that Alzheimer's disease is really called old-timer's disease. Or that to a T is really to the teeth. The term eggcorn is an eggcorn for acorn, according to NPR
Then, of course, there are malapropisms, which are instances in which a speaker mistakenly uses a word in place of another, similar sounding word. The name comes from mal a prop, according to Wikipedia, a french term for inappropriate, but came into wide use because of a character called Mrs. Malaprop in the 1775 play The Rivals. She said things like "Illiterate him quite from your memory." My all-time favorite malapropism comes from good old Dan Quail, who once said "Republicans understand the importance of bondage between a mother and child." And they say Democrats promote sexual deviancy.
I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream uses an oronym - a type of word play in which the speaker uses two phrases that sound exactly alike but mean different things. These expressions are prime fodder for dad jokes - like the story about the hungry man who went to the beach to eat the sand, which is there (sandwiches there).
Spoonerisms are expressions in which the beginning sounds of two words are swapped - bass akwards, nucking futs. The term spoonerism came about in the early 20th century, after an Oxford lecturer called William Archibald Spooner, who was prone making them accidentally. Spooner was in no way amused by this. 

1 comment:

Should Fish More said...

Jon Carroll, a long time columnist for the SF Chronicle, has done some excellent pieces on mondegreens over the years. You may be able to find them online, not sure.