Date: Fri, 11 Oct 1996 14:10:51 -0400


Subject: Re: Mondegreens

A former colleague of mine had a boyfriend who was a doctor and who

collected misapprehensions of medical terms (which proved to be common,

since most people find medical jargon only slightly more comprehensible than

Linear A). The items that stuck in my mind were:

Texas Cyclone = tetracycline

precious pills = blood pressure pills

spiral many-Jesus = spinal meningitis

The second item, according to a pharmacist relative, is quite common.

It looks as though speakers are trying to analyze strings that are

incomprehensible to them as if they were made up of comprehensibe items, but

without any requirement that the expression as a whole is comprehensible.

For example, one would have to wonder about the religious world-view of

someone who approached "Hail Mary full of grapes" and "spiral many-Jesus" as

being meaningful in the normal sense. This doesn't rule out the possibility

of also trying to make sense of the expression in the normal way --

"precious pills" makes a kind of sense if one has to take them to stay

healthy -- but sense doesn't seem to be a requirement.