I was reading a piece in New York Magazine today by a writer who kept mishearing part of a new Taylor Swift song. Even though she knew what the lyrics were, her brain kept hearing it incorrectly. This is called a “mondegreen:”
A series of words that result from the mishearing or misinterpretation of a statement or song lyric. For example, “I led the pigeons to the flag” for “I pledge allegiance to the flag.”
Coined by Sylvia Wright in Harper’s Magazine (The Death of Lady Mondegreen, Nov 1954) from a mishearing of a line in the Scottish ballad The Bonny Earl of Murray: “They have slain the Earl of Murray, / And laid him on the green” (misheard as “They have slain the Earl of Murray/ And Lady Mondegreen”).
When my daughter was little, she would sing along to Jose Feliciano’s Christmas song, “Feliz Navidad.” Since she didn’t know any Spanish at that time, the chorus would always come out as “Feliz Blobby-blob.” Another Yuletide song that kids tend to mangle is “Silent Night.” A mondegreen of that tune (which I love) is: “Round John Virgin, mother and child” instead of “round yon virgin, mother and child.”
Are you, or someone you know, guilty of creating mondegreens? Have any favorites?
Feliz Blobby-blob, y’all!