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Mondegreens

Ruth Haag • Dec 17, 2013 at 3:00 PM

Does everyone remember this favorite song the way I do, as follows?

 

“You know Dasher, and Dancer, and Prancer, and NIXON, Comet and CUBIT, and Donder and Blitzen, But do you recall…The most famous reindeer of all?

Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer, had a very shiny nose, and if you ever saw it, you would even say it glows. 

OLIVE the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names ….. 

….Then all the reindeer loved him and they shouted out with glee, Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, you’ll go down and KISS DOREEN”

 

So how many reindeer are there? Nine or eleven? 

 

Mondegreens invented 

 

The term “Mondegreen” was coined by Sylvia Wright in 1954 while she was a columnist for “Harper’s,” to describe a mishearing or misinterpretation of a phrase. Many Mondegreens occur with song lyrics.

 

Of course the real reindeer names are Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, VIXEN, Comet, CUPID, Donder and Blitzen. There is no Olive or Doreen. (It’s really ALL OF the other reindeer, and you’ll go down IN HISTORY.)

 

Some Mondegreens make the songs better. For example, by blaming just Olive, the other reindeer, for laughing and calling Rudolph names, just one reindeer is rude, not all of them. 

 

Sylvia Wright came up with the name “Mondegreen” through her own mis-hearing of a stanza from the ballad “The Bonnie Earl O’Murray.” The real ballad stanza was: 

 

Ye Highlands and ye Lowlands

Oh. Where hae ye been?

They hae slain the Earl O’Murray,

AND LAID HIM ON THE GREEN. 

 

Sylvia Wright heard “AND LADY MONDEGREEN.” She decided that, for lack of a better term, these mis-hearings should thenceforth be called Mondegreens. 

 

The most popular Mondegreens 

 

According to Jon Carroll, who runs the “Center for the Humane Study of Mondegreens,” (www.sfgate.com/columinsts/carrol...) the most frequently noted Mondegreen is from the hymn “Gladly The Cross I’d [I would] Bear” which is heard as “Gladly, the cross-eyed bear.” Carroll indicates that the next most noted Mondegreen is from the Creedence Clearwater Revival song, “There’s a Bad Moon Rising.” 

 

The real lyrics are: 

 

“Don’t go around tonight, Well, its bound to take your life 

THERE’S A BAD MOON ON THE RISE.” 

In this song, many people hear the stanza conclude with, “THERE’S A BATHROOM ON THE RIGHT.” 

 

Adding in my own Mondegreen, it becomes somewhat more comforting: 

 

Don’t go around tonight EVERYTHING WILL BE ALL RIGHT, 

THERE’S A BATHROOM ON THE RIGHT” 

 

Carroll’s third place is from the Jimi Hendrix song, “Purple Haze,” which has a line, “Excuse me while I kiss the sky.” This phrase is often heard as “EXCUSE ME WHILE I KISS THIS GUY.” 

 

I pledge allegiance to the flag 

 

Carroll indicates that the following Mondegreen was put together before the words “under God” were added to the Pledge of Allegiance, in 1954: 

 

“I PLEDGE A LESION TO THE FLAG, OF THE UNITED STATE OF AMERICA, AND TO 

THE REPUBLIC FOR RICHARD STANS, ONE NAKED INDIVIDUAL, WITH LIVER TEA 

AND JUST THIS FOR ALL.” 

 

More Mondegreens 

 

The following Mondegreens come from another Internet site: www.snopes.com/holidays/christma...

 

From the musical Grease, “Hopelessly devoted to you” is heard: “HOPE THE CITY VOTED FOR YOU.” 

 

From Juice Newton, “Angel of the Morning, “Just touch my cheek before you leave me, baby,” is heard: “JUST BRUSH MY TEETH BEFORE YOU LEAVE ME, BABY.” 

 

From “Feliz Navidad” the Spanish version of “Silent Night,” “Feliz Navidad” is heard: “POLICE GOT MY DAD.” 

 

From “God rest Ye Merry Gentleman,” “God rest ye merry, gentleman, Let nothing you dismay.” is heard: “GET DRESSED YE MARRIED GENTLEMAN, LET NOTHING THROUGH THIS MAY.” 

 

From “Good King Wenceslas, “Good King Wenceslas looked out, On the feast of Stephan,” is heard: “GOOD KING WENCES’ CAR BACKED OUT, ON THE FEET OF HEATHENS.”

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