The ants are my friends

Just finished Martin Toseland’s The Ants Are My Friends: Misheard Lyrics, Malapropisms, Eggcorns, and Other Linguistic Gaffes (hardback in 2007, paperback in 2009), a collection, meant for general readers, of phenomena that should be familiar to readers of this blog and of Language Log: mondegreens, eggcorns, and (non-eggcorn) classical malapropisms. (Key to title: Bob Dylan’s line “the answer, my friends” (is blowin’ in the wind).)

There are many old friends here, attractively presented and engagingly discussed, and Toseland largely avoids the mocking tone that many people talking about mistakes take to those who produce them.

I haven’t checked Toseland’s eggcorn examples to see how many of them are in the Eggcorn Database, or at least mentioned in the Eggcorn Forum, but a quick sampling suggests that most of them have come by the eggcornologists. I have a modest collection of classical malapropisms, but I’m not aiming at completeness there; and though there are some on-line collections of mondegreens, I’m not keeping files on them myself.

Toseland describes himself on his webpage as “an author, ghostwriter, freelance publisher and literary agent”. Ants was the first book published under his own name. It’s now been followed by A Steroid Hit The Earth: A Celebration of Misprints, Typos and Other Howlers (hardback in 2008, paperback in 2009), which I haven’t looked at yet.

Lightweight stuff, but entertaining; it would probably be enjoyed by someone who’s interested in language-y stuff, but not to the point of following linguablogs.

2 Responses to “The ants are my friends”

  1. Mondegreens « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] came up in a serious way on this blog most recently in “The ants are my friends”, here. Before you write in with your favorites, let me remind you that there are many published and […]

  2. Annals of mishearing « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] The ants are my friends (link): Toseland book on misheard lyrics, inter […]

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