Olive the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names

Years ago, when I was a little thing, my parents read the Daily Mirror. In that tabloid, there was a strip cartoon – The Perishers. One of the characters was Baby Grumpling. Baby Grumpling had a teddy bear. The teddy was named Gladly – as in Gladly, my cross-eyed bear.

Gladly my cross-eyed bear”  is a mondegreen. A mondegreen is the mishearing or misinterpretation of a phrase as a result of near-homophony, in a way that gives it a new meaning.

With me so far?

You know… “‘scuse me while I kiss this guy.”  “Jeff’s nuts roasting on an open fire…” “Rudolph with your nose so bright, won’t you guard my slave tonight?”

Now…  a mondegreen is unlike a malapropism: The unintentionally incorrect use of similar-sounding words or phrases in speaking is a malapropism. If there is a connection in meaning, it can be called an eggcorn. If a person stubbornly sticks to a mispronunciation after being corrected, that can be described as mumpsimus.

Keeping up?

So what is it when a commonly-voiced word or phrase is inconsistently written-down through a misunderstanding of meaning and/or spelling? It is kind of a mondegreen, I think… though sometimes fails to make sense and is simply a made-up word. I have written on this subject before – one example is the person who blogged that they must get “a rigglon” (as in get a wriggle on i.e. move quickly to achieve an aim.)

The number expressing themselves with “Wallah!” (clearly never took French at school, or they would know that the expression is Voilà!) is legion.Interestingly, this expression may well have good meaning in the same context:

Wallah may refer to:

I, like most Euros am most familiar with the Hindu/Urdu suffix indicating a person involved in some kind of activity – e.g. Chai-wallah.The misunderstanding of use may therefore be mine. Maybe the writers intend “By Allah!” and not “Lo, there it is; ta-da; presto; behold!”

This week I found a new one – a hard-up person wrote that they are brassic. A quick lesson in Cockney Rhyming Slang needed there, I think: Boracic – from Boracic Lint = skint. (For the younger reader: Boracic Lint commonly formed the basis of many a First Aid kit whan I was a nipper. It’s a dressing.)

I am just rambling. Forgive me – this has little to do with spinning! It’s just an invitation to tell me about any similar examples of linguistic misunderstanding you find in your blog travels. Language fascinates me. Go on, how much mumpsimus do you find in your reading? Tell us!

One more thing – is there any guilt to be laid at this door? I confess that I reached the crucial birthday before ever realising that Fourty is spelled Forty and that I was well into my Twenties before understanding that I had been misled in reading misled as my-zelled and this word was in fact pronounced mis-led. And don’t get me started on -t and -ed endings. Is it spelt or is it spelled or was it perhaps that I dreamt or dreamed it –  or simply leaped or leapt to an incorrect conclusion.

I shall be 60 next year. Have I been carrying any language misapprehensions with me for all those years. Do I consistently use an incorrect word or spelling still. I think that I must be told!

This is not an invitation for Gill to try and convert me to the use of whilst, by the way 🙂

One final, intentional, mondegreen in order to get us back on topic. All together now…

Mairzy doats and dozy doats and liddle lamzy divey…

(I’m not convinced that any of Gill’s lambs dine on ivy!)

8 Responses to “Olive the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names”

  1. SpinningGill 4th July 2012 at 9:10 pm #

    Don’t forget about ‘amongst’ as well! 😉

    I’m not going to tell you about the mispronunciations that I used to get up to!

    • SandaySpinner 5th July 2012 at 9:46 am #

      whatever happened to I’ll show you mine, if you show me yours? I have been humbled… now you ‘fess up! 🙂

      • SpinningGill 5th July 2012 at 1:05 pm #

        ok – here goes.

        There is a word – anxious, and there is another word anxiety. I used to pronounce it (when reading it)ank-city.
        The other one was conspicuous – conspishus – again, when read. 🙂

  2. Liz H 5th July 2012 at 11:14 am #

    My sister and I, when we were little, were absolutely convinced that God’s name was Peter. Why? Because in church you always say ‘Thanks, Peter God’ after the readings.

  3. Karin 5th July 2012 at 1:00 pm #

    And what about “allbeit”?!
    On my first trip to Scotland back in the dark ages I was trying to hitch hike to Burn Tis Land. The driver who stopped couldn’t stop laughing. Having moved to Scotland I am still fascinated by place name pronounciation

    • SandaySpinner 5th July 2012 at 1:32 pm #

      Scottish placename pronounciation… what a minefield!

      I lived in the village of Wanlockhead (i.e source of the river Wanlock) for several years. Our mail was often addressed to 1 Lochhead. And that from true Scots not ignorant Sassenachs!

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