Archive for the ‘Mishearings’ Category

Odds and ends 5/26/15

May 26, 2015

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“The most famous beaver of the 17th century”

May 7, 2015

That’s what I thought I heard from the WQXR announcer last night. But then she went on to tell us about Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber’s Sonata VII in G for violin, which made a lot more sense than a 17th-century beaver.

Biber with a /b/, beaver with a /v/: acoustically very close.

Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber von Bibern (12 August 1644 (baptised) – 3 May 1704) was a Bohemian-Austrian composer and violinist. (Wikipedia link)

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.

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Ask AMZ: two queries

November 27, 2014

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

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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.

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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:

(#1)

(#2)

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Ruthie’s readings

July 5, 2014

Two recent One Big Happys:

(#1)

(#2)

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:

(#1)

One too many Dos XXs!

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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.

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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.)


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