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posted by martyb on Thursday December 11 2014, @06:12PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the Ladle-Rat-Rotten-Hut dept.

Maria Konnikova writes in The New Yorker that mondegreens are funny but they also give us insight into the underlying nature of linguistic processing, how our minds make meaning out of sound, and how in fractions of seconds, we translate a boundless blur of sound into sense. One of the reasons we often mishear song lyrics is that there’s a lot of noise to get through, and we usually can’t see the musicians’ faces. Other times, the misperceptions come from the nature of the speech itself, for example when someone speaks in an unfamiliar accent or when the usual structure of stresses and inflections changes, as it does in a poem or a song. Another common cause of mondegreens is the oronym: word strings in which the sounds can be logically divided multiple ways. One version that Steven Pinker describes goes like this: Eugene O’Neill won a Pullet Surprise. The string of phonetic sounds can be plausibly broken up in multiple ways—and if you’re not familiar with the requisite proper noun, you may find yourself making an error.

Other times, the culprit is the perception of the sound itself: some letters and letter combinations sound remarkably alike, and we need further cues, whether visual or contextual, to help us out. In a phenomenon known as the McGurk effect, people can be made to hear one consonant when a similar one is being spoken. “There’s a bathroom on the right” standing in for “there’s a bad moon on the rise” is a succession of such similarities adding up to two equally coherent alternatives.

Finally along with knowledge, we’re governed by familiarity: we are more likely to select a word or phrase that we’re familiar with, a phenomenon known as Zipf’s law. One of the reasons that “Excuse me while I kiss this guy” substituted for Jimi Hendrix’s “Excuse me while I kiss the sky” remains one of the most widely reported mondegreens of all time can be explained in part by frequency. It’s much more common to hear of people kissing guys than skies.

[Ed's note: For an extreme example of this, see: Ladle Rat Rotten Hut which was written by Howard L. Chace and appeared in Anguish Languish .]
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  • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 11 2014, @06:13PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 11 2014, @06:13PM (#125158)

    Kiss a guy? Take your fanny bandit propaganda somewhere else.

    • (Score: 2) by Jeremiah Cornelius on Thursday December 11 2014, @06:39PM

      by Jeremiah Cornelius (2785) on Thursday December 11 2014, @06:39PM (#125168) Journal

      When I was young, I misheard the lyrics to Jackson 5's "Dancing Machine". I was quite embarrassed to be "caught out" by a friend's older sister, after belting out my version, which went a little like this:

      Seven a.m., waking up in the morning
      Gotta be fresh, gotta go downstairs
      Gotta have my bowl, gotta have cereal
      Seein' everything, the time is goin'
      Tickin' on and on, everybody's rushin'
      Gotta get down to the bus stop
      Gotta catch my bus, I see my friends (My friends)

      Kickin' in the front seat
      Sittin' in the back seat
      Gotta make my mind up
      Which seat can I take?

      It's Friday, Friday
      Gotta get down on Friday

      --
      You're betting on the pantomime horse...
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 11 2014, @07:39PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 11 2014, @07:39PM (#125194)
        it's fried egg, fried egg!
      • (Score: 1) by drgibbon on Thursday December 11 2014, @08:28PM

        by drgibbon (74) Subscriber Badge on Thursday December 11 2014, @08:28PM (#125228) Journal

        Please mod parent up +1 Informative.

        --
        Certified Soylent Fresh!
    • (Score: 2) by Tork on Friday December 12 2014, @06:38AM

      by Tork (3914) on Friday December 12 2014, @06:38AM (#125389)

      Kiss a guy? Take your fanny bandit propaganda somewhere else.

      Everybody be careful about what you say around this AC, he's easily persuaded!

      --
      Slashdolt Logic: "24 year old jokes about sharks and lasers are +5, Funny." 💩
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 11 2014, @06:32PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 11 2014, @06:32PM (#125164)

    Saw this one recently: Super Bass => Superb Ass

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 11 2014, @06:46PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 11 2014, @06:46PM (#125171)

    "wrapped up like a douche"

    • (Score: 1) by KilroySmith on Thursday December 11 2014, @07:10PM

      by KilroySmith (2113) on Thursday December 11 2014, @07:10PM (#125177)

      Well, it's not like "wrapped up like a deuce" makes any more sense in context

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 11 2014, @07:32PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 11 2014, @07:32PM (#125190)

        It's supposed to be "revved up like a deuce". Go figure.

      • (Score: 1) by Lunix Nutcase on Thursday December 11 2014, @07:59PM

        by Lunix Nutcase (3913) on Thursday December 11 2014, @07:59PM (#125209)

        It's revved not wrapped. I context the "deuce" is slang for a 1932 Ford coupe that were used as hot rods.

    • (Score: 1) by Lunix Nutcase on Thursday December 11 2014, @07:57PM

      by Lunix Nutcase (3913) on Thursday December 11 2014, @07:57PM (#125204)

      "Wrapped up like a douche" aka "revved up like a deuce" is from the cover by Manfred Mann's Earth Band. Springsteen's version has the line as "cut loose like a deuce".

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 15 2014, @08:12AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 15 2014, @08:12AM (#126113)

        super bass => phenomenal turd cutter

    • (Score: 2) by turgid on Thursday December 11 2014, @08:22PM

      by turgid (4318) Subscriber Badge on Thursday December 11 2014, @08:22PM (#125225) Journal

      I never had the opportunity to mishear any Bruce Springsteen lyrics since his snare drum pierced my brain and it oozed out in a sticky green puddle of goo on the floor. I've never recovered.

      • (Score: 1) by Lunix Nutcase on Thursday December 11 2014, @08:25PM

        by Lunix Nutcase (3913) on Thursday December 11 2014, @08:25PM (#125226)

        Well Bruce isn't the source of the misheard lyric. It was a cover version. Bruce even made a joke that the song didn't become famous until it was about feminine hygiene.

        • (Score: 2) by JeanCroix on Thursday December 11 2014, @09:00PM

          by JeanCroix (573) on Thursday December 11 2014, @09:00PM (#125247)
          Maybe, but it's not like Bruce has the best enunciation anyway; in many cases he's more of a shouter than a singer. I still hear "Tent devil in the freezer!"
          • (Score: 1) by Lunix Nutcase on Thursday December 11 2014, @09:16PM

            by Lunix Nutcase (3913) on Thursday December 11 2014, @09:16PM (#125257)

            I definitely agree.

          • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Friday December 12 2014, @02:46AM

            by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Friday December 12 2014, @02:46AM (#125358) Journal
            Better than "Badass, you gotta eat liver every day" or "I don't give a damn/For the same old plate of cheese" (Badlands)
            --
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
    • (Score: 1) by drgibbon on Thursday December 11 2014, @08:29PM

      by drgibbon (74) Subscriber Badge on Thursday December 11 2014, @08:29PM (#125230) Journal

      You mean those aren't the actual lyrics?? ... ...

      --
      Certified Soylent Fresh!
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 12 2014, @03:14AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 12 2014, @03:14AM (#125365)

      I thought that was exactly what he said...

      As another singer noted... "Baby, everything is all right, up tight, out of sight", I thought that was a reference to the same thing.

      And wasn't "walk right in, sit right down" the ladies restroom procedure?

      I also misinterpreted a popular suntan lotion ad as a plea to "ban SLA from the central basin".

    • (Score: 2) by Magic Oddball on Friday December 12 2014, @03:50AM

      by Magic Oddball (3847) on Friday December 12 2014, @03:50AM (#125372) Journal

      Or later in the same song, “gave my anus swirly-whirly.” For a long time, whenever I heard that part of the song I ended up with an imagined mental image of a young dude applying his tongue...er...yeah.

      At least “revved up like a deuce” makes sense — it's a reference to the old Beach Boys' song, "Little Deuce Coupe.” From what I'm finding online, “deuce” was slang for a little hot rod back in the 50s/60s.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 11 2014, @07:08PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 11 2014, @07:08PM (#125175)

    Did this story spring from that?
    She's got electric boobs, her Mom has two.

    -- gewg_

  • (Score: 2) by GlennC on Thursday December 11 2014, @07:11PM

    by GlennC (3656) on Thursday December 11 2014, @07:11PM (#125180)

    My son and I were in my car, listening to Tag Team's "Whoomp, There It Is".

    He thought they were singing "Whoop That Ass".

    --
    Sorry folks...the world is bigger and more varied than you want it to be. Deal with it.
  • (Score: 2, Informative) by zugedneb on Thursday December 11 2014, @07:14PM

    by zugedneb (4556) on Thursday December 11 2014, @07:14PM (#125181)

    are the words we are looking for... And of course TFA never mentions any of them, because, well, it could be to much information in hands if the public...

    Anyway, I have a friend who's wife is a phd in linguistics, and once I spent an entire evening explaining to her what Envelope and Principal Component Analysis mean in signal processing... You might want to read up on those 2 concepts, it is worth it...
    She had a "wow" experience, so I was pretty content :D

    So, the point is that signals that are by definition different, might have similar envelopes or principal components, and system that relies on them for detections would need a context based model to differentiate between them...

    The cool thing with mishearing song is that the context is would, kind of, allow any version of the text, with some polish...

    --
    old saying: "a troll is a window into the soul of humanity" + also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Ajax
    • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 11 2014, @07:45PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 11 2014, @07:45PM (#125197)

      The cool thing with mishearing song is that the context is would, kind of, allow any version of the text, with some polish...

      Will other northeastern European languages work a well?

      • (Score: 1) by zugedneb on Thursday December 11 2014, @09:21PM

        by zugedneb (4556) on Thursday December 11 2014, @09:21PM (#125260)

        (with some polish... = I meant polishing it up, but am very tired now, write dumb things...)

        well, the English language is a phenomenon :D
        I speak hungarian, swedish, and english fluently, and a little japanese and german, but it is only with english that these kinds of mysteries are everyday topic =)
        the other languages have a different way of describing a context, and the consonants in the words are placed such that one does not have so much room to play...

        --
        old saying: "a troll is a window into the soul of humanity" + also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Ajax
  • (Score: 2) by frojack on Thursday December 11 2014, @08:01PM

    by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Thursday December 11 2014, @08:01PM (#125210) Journal

    Sitting on the floor, playing with toys as a small child, I distinctly hear the radio playing a song
    about:
    Sam and Janet Evening and how they would beat a stranger.

    Never trusted any Janet since...

    --
    No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
    • (Score: 2) by mhajicek on Friday December 12 2014, @05:20AM

      by mhajicek (51) on Friday December 12 2014, @05:20AM (#125381)

      When I was very little I told my parents I wanted a "Pro Thunder" big-wheel trike, but I thought it was called a "Road Fucker".

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 11 2014, @08:09PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 11 2014, @08:09PM (#125217)

    Get up, stand up, strut your funky Dutch, oh yeah!

  • (Score: 2) by Tork on Thursday December 11 2014, @08:22PM

    by Tork (3914) on Thursday December 11 2014, @08:22PM (#125224)
    Heeeeey there Snoopy! Snoopy hang on!!
    --
    Slashdolt Logic: "24 year old jokes about sharks and lasers are +5, Funny." 💩
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 11 2014, @08:29PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 11 2014, @08:29PM (#125231)

      Rod Stewart: Every picture's of a jelly donut

      Police: A year has passed since I've broke my nose

      • (Score: 2) by Tork on Thursday December 11 2014, @08:34PM

        by Tork (3914) on Thursday December 11 2014, @08:34PM (#125233)
        She wants to potty all the time potty all the time!
        --
        Slashdolt Logic: "24 year old jokes about sharks and lasers are +5, Funny." 💩
  • (Score: 2, Funny) by gawdonblue on Friday December 12 2014, @08:36AM

    by gawdonblue (412) on Friday December 12 2014, @08:36AM (#125409)

    You know what I mean,
    And the way she looked was way beyond repair.
    I'll never dance with her mother!
    Ooh! I saw her standing there.