Archive for the ‘Mishearings’ Category

Journalists and their names

February 11, 2015

Late last week, the Stanford Linguistic Department’s assistant e-mailed me about a phone call (for me) that had come into the department: a Mr. Ethics, representing a magazine, wanted to talk to me about a story he was working on, and left a New York City phone number.

I tried to check on this fellow Ethics, to no avail, until I realized that the assistant (who is very good at her job, but is not a native speaker of English) had almost surely gotten the name wrong. Eventually I figured out that the man’s name was Essex, not the unlikely Ethics. By then the day was over in New York City; in any case, I thought the phone call to my department was an ominous sign.


Ask AMZ: two queries

November 27, 2014

… from Karen Schaffer: on trickle treat, and on gangbang and gangbanger.


Musical mishearing

November 22, 2014

(briefly noted)

On the fairy tale beat. Heard on WQXR last night, Humperdinck’s Sleeping Beauty Suite (Dornröschen, 1902). Except that what I heard as the title was Sweeping Beauty Suite — suitable for Cinderella (Aschenputtel) but not Sleeping Beauty.


Ruthie (mis)interprets

August 18, 2014

Two recent One Big Happy cartoons with Ruthie’s misinterpretations of what she’s heard: a simple one today, and a very complex one a little while back:




Ruthie’s readings

July 5, 2014

Two recent One Big Happys:



Ruthie misunderstands a number of things here: in #1, the full cultural context of what she’s seeing on television, plus the interpretation of self-esteem issues (which she parses as selfish steam issues); and in #2, the interpretation of Oil of Olay (which she hears as Oil of Old Lady).

After Cinco de Mayo

May 7, 2014

The 5th was (surprise!) Cinco de Mayo and also National Cartoonists Day, as I reported yesterday. So yesterday was the day after. Cartoonist Lalo Alvarez considers that day:


One too many Dos XXs!


Ruthie v. English

September 12, 2013

A set of One Big Happy strips in which little Ruthie confronts the language: a spectacular mondegreen, some other misunderstandings based on phonological similarity (with more familiar words replacing unusual ones), and some troubles with idiomatic usages.


take it as a given

July 21, 2013

In today’s Pearls Before Swine, Pig misunderstands yet another English expression:

Ok, it’s take it as a given ‘assume that it is true’, a partly transparent idiom. Which Pig apparently hadn’t heard before, so he understands the noun given, eggcornishly, as gibbon. Swing on, Pig.

(Yes, tremendously silly. But I am entertained.)

On the mistakes patrol

May 28, 2013

Three recent  mistakes on my part: a writing error; a mishearing; and a misinterpretation of what I heard.


Another OBH roundup

May 16, 2013

From Benita Bendon Campbell, three more One Big Happy strips: on questions, compound nouns, and tense in nouns. And then, as a bonus, four strips on Ruthie’s interpretations of words.



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