Lady Mondegreen is dead

Well not really. She never existed but a mondegreen occurs when our brains try to make sense of a partially heard or semi-understood phrase. Lady Mondegreen’s birth is contained in the following border ballad:

‘Ye highlands and ye lowlands
Oh, where have you been
They have slain the Earl o’ Murray
And Lady Mondegreen’

But in fact, they had not and the last line was ‘And they laid him on the green’. But mondegreens are always with us. Most primary RE teachers will come across the late Father Wishart as in ‘Our Father Wishart in heaven, Harold be thy name’. The Pythons declared ‘Blessed are the Cheesemakers’ and asked ‘lead us not into Penge station’. Musically Bob Dylan was an entomologist ‘The ants are my friends, blowing in the wind’ and Putin would be interested in ‘Crimean River’. Competitors might wonder what they won for the Pullet Surprise. In words an orange is really a naranj, a newt was a salamander and called an ewt and so on.

But now the broadcasters are doing real-time subtitles for the hard of hearing some of whom were surprised to learn that weather forecasts are prepared by meaty urologists.
So next time you come across a mondegreen say Hi to the lady — she will be around for a long time!

Brian Rigby

February – March 2019