Writing My Life

Now and Then

… a time to chortle … enjoying MoNdeGrEenS


I was supposed to be busy folding laundry, but instead I was peeking at friends’ and families’ blogs. During this diversion, I read an entry that made me laugh out out (lol in textspeak.) It seems that my neighbor’s children were perusing a Disney catalog of available DVDs, and the conversation went like this:

Daughter: “LOOK! Incredibles! (Or whatever movie she was looking at.) We [have] never seen that one!”

Son: “That’s Prince of Diarrhea!”
(Otherwise known to the rest of the world as Princess Diaries.)

First of all, I hope she doesn’t mind that I copied and pasted the dialog; and secondly, wouldn’t you know a boy – even a little one – is the author of a potty reference – even if unintentionally? But that’s NOT the focus of this post! (WHEW! You breathe in relief!)

Besides laughing at the incident, I recognized her son’s comment as a “mondegreen.” A what?  Well, according to one of my favorite references, The Word Snoop: A wild and witty tour of the English Language! by Ursula Dubosarsky, a mondegreen is “what happens when we hear words without reading them and our brains have to work out what we think is being said or, more often, sung.”

The term was coined in 1954 by the writer Sylvia Wright. When she was young she misheard her mother recite a line from a poem:

“They have slain the Earl of Murray,

And they laid him on the green.”

which she heard as:

“They have slain the Earl of Murray, 

And the Lady Mondegreen.”

OH NO! Not Lady Mondegreen, too?

Naturally, I recalled a couple of mondegreen experiences – not nearly as humorous as the Prince of Diarrhea, but memorable, for some reason. An old family story revolves around my sister Connie’s concern about starting kindergarten at Losin’ Clark Elementary School.

I can just picture what she thought was going on at an educational institution that loses people. Maybe teachers just misplaced students named Clark, but it still would give rise for worries, especially for a 6-year-old! With relief, she ended first grade knowing how to read, and therefore, learned that she attended Lewis and Clark Elementary! That tidbit clarified everything: It was LEWIS who lost Clark while exploring the great northwest!

I’m not immune to this condition either. I often “mishear” lyrics to songs, and I always have – even when I was younger and had better hearing, AND lyrics were less complicated: “She loves you. Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!” – for example.

Nowadays, as I listen to FM100 or 97.9, The Breeze, I hear several of Sheryl Crow’s many songs. One title I particularly enjoyed was “As God is My Hero!” What a wonderful sentiment! I thought as I listened to Sheryl sing the refrain. But then I heard it again, and thought she was considering God’s gender as she sung “As God is My DIVA!” Finally one day, I heard the DJ announce, “That was Sheryl Crow singing The First Cut is the Deepest.”


I’m not really sure if this counts as a mondegreen experience or a hearing loss. But I’m standing by the mondegreen claim rather than entertaining the notion of buying hearing aids.

As I wind up this light topic, I am putting a call out to my many readers to share your experiences with mondegreens. I know my own grandchildren have come up with some doozies, but do you think I can remember what they are? (First the hearing and now the memory – what’s next? Sheeeeesh!)

Anyway, please search your family stories; talk with your spouses to see if you can come up with an example or two. Or grab a pencil and paper, tie it around your neck so that you are prepared to record the next humorous mondegreen that comes out of your little ones’ mouths – and if it has anything to do with potty humor, all the better!

See ya in the comment column!

Author: rbs

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4 thoughts on “… a time to chortle … enjoying MoNdeGrEenS

  1. Well, not much luck in collecting anecdotes of children or adults experiences with mondegreens, but my daughter-in-law Kara verbalized a comment. She told me that her precocious 3-year-old eats Fruity Pedals. (I was trying to figure out the shape of those funny flakes.) She also complains about too much “yak” in her ears. When her daddy asked her if she only had one yak in her ear, she corrected herself and said she had lots of “yaks” in there. (Perhaps too much Dr. Suess is going on in her life!)

    One day I’ll tell her about the time when her daddy thought we were singing about him in church. At least, that’s what he informed me when we sang, “There is beauty all around, when there’s love at home. There is JOEY in every sound, when there’s love at home.” Anyone who knows our Joe, understands that he heard right. Our loud, but lovable Joey was usually involved in EVERY sound.

  2. I really cannot believe how funny you are. I do remember laughing our heads off at so many things. I love your literary humor—sorry I can’t add any mondegrens, but I’ll think about it and get back!

  3. I have one. A kid I knew, little brother of a friend of mine growing up in Florida, referred to our national anthem as “Stars and Speckled Banners”. Does that count? : )

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