Date: Fri, 11 Oct 1996 14:49:24 EDT


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').