Wednesday, December 30, 2020

On mondegreens and eggcorns, and how people talk about them

Misunderstood phrases in songs ("kiss this guy" for "kiss the sky" in Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze") are "mondegreens", which comes from "laid him on the green" for "Lady Mondegreen". Whenever they come up, mondegreens are always treated as humorous. Some misunderstood phrases in speech get written down later ("lame man's terms" for "layman's terms") and are then called "eggcorns" (as a replacement for "acorn"). But whenever they come up, eggcorns are always treated as ridiculous. The mechanism is the same (misunderstanding a phrase and trying to make sense of it, often unconsciously), but the two cases are treated completely differently, even though they are equally creative responses to difficulties in comprehension. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 30 December)

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