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Tuesday, July 8, 2008


The latest edition of the Merriam Webster dictionary is now out. There are about 100 newly added words. They include edamame, an immature green soybean, pescatarian which is a vegetarian who eats fish. The words to be added are monitored over several years to see if the word is used to convey a specific idea.

There's a new category called mondegreen. It describes words mistaken for other words. A mondegreen most often comes from misunderstood phrases or lyrics. It comes from an old Scottish ballad in which the lyric "laid him on the green" has been confused over time with "Lady Mondegreen". Some of the best-known examples are, "There's a bathroom on the right" in place of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "There's a bad moon on the rise" and "Scuse me, while I kiss this guy" in place of "kiss the sky" in the Jimi Hendrix classic "Purple Haze". "Lucy in the sky with diamonds" from the Beatles made sense to some fans as "Lucy in the sky with Linus".

I'm sure we've all heard of "Olive the other reindeer" which is really "All of the other reindeeer". I also wonder if my son's calling pigeons "flocker birds" is an example of a mondegreen. I was really calling a group of pigeons "flock of birds"

I've got to get myself a copy of the new dictionary. It's sure to be a bestselling pageturner.

1 comment:

ms/sss said...

I have a plan to keep a dictionary in my car, especially for when we travel a bit. Rarely does a trip go by, when we're not wondering about the meaning or the spelling of a particular word. "Let's look it up, when we get home" has become our mondegreen for "Forget it. We'll never remember to look it up!"