Date: Fri, 11 Oct 1996 14:49:24 EDT
From: Larry Horn LHORN[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]YALEVM.CIS.YALE.EDU
Subject: Re: Mondegreens
The last time we discussed mondegreens, according to my files, was in October
'95. During this discussion, someone mentioned that Steven Pinker (_Language
Instinct_) attributes this coinage to the columnist Jon Carroll, based on his
own mishearing of the ballad "The Bonnie Earl O'Moray" ('They have slain the
Earl O'Moray/And laid him on the green'). They are essentially equivalent to
what Fromkin and Rodman (following a different coinage) call Pullet Surprises.
Another compilation appeareed a while further back on Linguist List (March '94)
--both the Linguist and the ADS-L discussions should be available on the
appropriate archives. Just within the medical diagnostic realm, besides the
spinal meningitis (which I've heard mondegreenized as 'sighs of baby Jesus'
rather than 'spiral many-Jesus', and it does parse a bit better), there's
'very-close veins', 'roaches of the liver', 'sick-as-hell anemia', and of
course 'old-timer's disease'. It's always difficult to tell which are genuine
mishearings and which are self-conscious reanalyses (a la 'monokini').