Mondegreens for You for Christmas
Yes, I have mondegreens for you! Aren't you thrilled?
If you're not sure, you aren't alone. It's a word that sounds
vaguely familiar , and might be something you'd like to get. I
mean we have lots of "greens" at Christmas - trees, wreaths,
apparel, and "monde," well doesn't that mean "world"?
But ... huh?
When Christmas carols burst upon the scene with their unfamiliar
or vaguely familiar and sometimes archaic lyris (i.e., "to
certain poor shepherds"), hark! (Listen!), we have the makings
of a wassail (beverage) bowl of confusion, or, more precisely, a
wassail bowl of mondegreens.
"Mondegreen" means a mishearing of a statement or song lyric.
Kinda like the old game of "Gossip" where you whisper something
to the first person as fast as you can, they whisper it to the
person next to them, and after 9 people, the last person recites
what they heard and you laugh!
The term was allegedly coined by Sylvia Wright, a columnist, who
wrote of her dismay in discovering that she had misheard the
lyrics to the Scottish folk ballad, "The Bonny Early of Murray."
It goes "They ha'e slain the Earl of Murray, And they laid him
on the Green," while she had always heard "They ha'e slain the
Earl of Murray, and Lady Mondegreen."
Examples abound, especially where children are involved because
of their limited vocabulary for understanding, and their
unlimited capacity for passing on misinformation. I think of my
son, for instance, whose favorite Christmas song was, in his
words, "Frosty the No Man."
Snopes.com has collected these faux pas from Internet
postings, books, and reader e-mails. Perhaps you have your own
collection. Here you can see a list of some of them.
There is also also Deck the Halls with Buddy Holly and Other Misheard
Christmas Carol Lyrics, by Gavin Edwards, which contains
quite a few more, with great illustrations.
Now, technically, a mondegreen is a true misunderstanding, not
one of those parody songs. Here are a couple of examples:
"Olive, the other reindeer" ("All of the other reindeer" --
"Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer")
"Round John Virgin" ("Round yon virgin" -- "Silent Night")
"Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer, you'll go drown in Listerine."
("You'll go down in history." - "Rudolph")
We're compiling a list on Club Vivo Per Lei / I Live for Music (
www.susandunn.cc/vivoperlei.htm ) for your enjoyment, so, O Come
Hoggy Faithful (another example), drop by and submit yours and
enjoy those of others.
If your family's like mine, you have "stories" about these you
tell every year, particular from back when the kid were young.
P.S. Can't you imagine the little darling who thought is was
"Making a list, chicken and rice'?