Mondegreen – the mishearing or misinterpretation of a phrase as a result of near-homophony, in a way that gives it a new meaning; a word or phrase resulting from mishearing a word or phrase, especially in song lyrics.
Apropos of which, for years I thought Puff the Magic Dragon had a friend called Frolickin the Otomus (frolicked in the autumn mists).
The woman who was the Mary in Peter, Paul and Mary, has died.
Mary Travers was 72. I don’t think I ever saw her in a photo or on television, but I grew up with her voice and sang along to If I had a Hammer, Blown’ in the Wind and Puff the Magic Dragon.
I missed the politics in their songs – blame that on my youth at the time. And for years I thought Puff had a friend called Frolicin the Ottomus – blame that on my ears . I’m not sure when I worked out that they were singing Frolicked in the Autumn Mists.
I’d misheard the words. Other people thought there was a hidden meaning in the song, but the group put the record right on that in this version:
The mispronunciation of anemone as an enemy several times in a TV programme has inspired John Ansell to compile a list of the most mispronounced words in the English language.
I entered the conversation with a little hesitancy because there are a few words I mispronounced for years.
I was well into adulthood before I discovered halcyon was not haleycon (which I’d somehow associated with Haley Mills starring in a movie as a woman called Summer).
It was only while doing a radio book review that I realised it was badinage and not as I’d always read it bandiage (because I associated it with bandying words).
I could perhaps blame those two on the fact I’d seen them written but hadn’t heard them spoken. But that doesn’t explain why I thought the prayer my brothers & I recited every night was asking God to pity mice implicitly and not pity my simplicity.
Nor does it explain why I thought Puff the Magic dragon had a friend called Frolicin the Ottumis until someone pointed out to me that Peter, Paul and Mary had been singing frolicked in the autumn mists . . .