June 21, 2008

Word Play


There is actually a word for misheard lyrics. It comes from a 17th century ballad The Bonnie Earl O' Murray:

Ye Highlands and ye Lowlands,
Oh, where hae ye been?
They hae slain the Earl Amurray,
And laid him on the green

Sylvia Wright coined the word after hearing the last line as "Lady Mondegreen."

We had a Motown collection CD that I used to play in the car for the boys. I almost drove off the road when I heard Hart singing, "Keep Away!" for Heat Wave. Burning in my heart!


I only recently learned this word. I know the concept as Nomen est omen, "Your name is your fate," as in the veterinarian practice of Drs. Byrd, Fish and Katz. Working in a library for many years, I came to know both a Mrs. Reeder and a Ms. Reading, now sadly divorced and using her original, unremarkable name. There is also the famous winning poker player, John Moneymaker.

I used to collect aptonyms if I saw an interesting one in print, but I stopped when I found the Holy Grail; a name so perfect and appropriate that I realized I would never find another of its caliber. The name of the spokeswoman for the then-new Disneyland Taiwan, as quoted in the Chicago Tribune--and I am not making this up--was Winnie Pu.


Yo Yo Ma and Boutros Boutros-Ghali are in a restaurant. Boutros Boutros-Ghali asks the waiter, "How's the Mahi Mahi?" "So so." "Then I better have the steak tartare."

Yo Yo Ma says, "I have to fly to Walla Walla for a concert, I will just have the baba ganoush."

English doesn't have many of these alliterative doubles. Ping pong, Beri Beri? But Hebrew has lots. It has been a long time since my Hebrew-speaking days, but I used to delight in working them into casual conversation. It would have been a challenge to get all the ones I know into a single exchange though.

koom koom=kettle
sof sof=finally
reesh roosh=the sound of water

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