Garden-variety mishearing

Mishearings often arise though interference from things you have on your mind, either as habitual predispositions (to hear your own name, for instance, or vocabulary related to your interests) or your attention at the moment. In the latter vein, a story from yesterday, in the middle of my writing several postings on plants and gardens.

At Gordon Biersch (the restaurant), a server was running through some specials for the people at the next table. I heard Joaquin offer “lobster and shrimp compost”. Clearly absurd, though garden-related. I was, however, familiar with the menu, so I recognized the dish as “lobster and shrimp tacos” (quite nice, by the way).

Tacos and compost are reasonably closely related phonologically: both two syllables, with accent on the first. First syllable: /ta/ (neither Joaquin nor I is a /tæko/ speaker) vs. /kam/ (voiceless stop onsets, /t/ vs. /k/, nucleus /a/ vs. /am/ (with the latter commonly realized as [ã], nasalized [a]). Second syllable: /koz/ vs. /post/ (voiceless stop onsets, /k/ vs. /p/, nucleus /oz/ vs. /ost/, with alveolar fricatives /z/ vs. /s/ and a /t/ that is deletable in word-final clusters).



One Response to “Garden-variety mishearing”

  1. Robert Says:

    And “lobster and shrimp compote” would have been only slightly more probable.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: