Monday, November 17, 2008
Man-Moth: typos and mondegreens
I always thought the Cher song went, "gypsies, chimpanzees." Apparently, it's "gypsies, tramps and thieves." Oh well. Apparently there's a word (and a website, see last in list on bottom) for the phenomenon of mishearing song lyrics: mondegreen. Cool, huh?
A famous example of the misunderstanding made into a poem is Elizabeth Bishop's "Man-Moth." The poet was intrigued by a misprint of the word "mammoth" in a news article and subsequently wrote one of her more vulnerable poems featuring the character of the man-moth, a subterranean agoraphobe with the hidden, private spirituality of a hermit.
To read the poem, click here: http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/the-man-moth/
I was listening to some public radio jazz when I had a similar experience, thinking the lyrics of "I got my mojo workin" were "I got my mojo wagon." I loved the idea of a wagonful of mojos or a wagon that increases mojo...in an Austin Powers kind of way.
If you don't have any of your own misprints or mondegreens to fall back on, here are some online resources: