Monday, 14 December 2009

4 Colly Birds & Other Misunderstandings

Tabby and I were reading/singing her new book The Twelve Days of Christmas when we came upon the fourth day and its four "colly" birds. What?! Isn't it "calling" birds? Was it a misprint?

Of course, I turned to Wikipedia for answers and, to my shock/horror, it IS "colly" birds - originally. A colly bird is another name for a blackbird, apparently. But nowadays most people sing the "calling" bird version.

It got me wondering... perhaps the traditional English version was innocently corrupted by a misheard lyric. I bet it was. It happens all the time.

  • I know the lyrics of Rocket Man by Elton John are "Rocket man, burning out his fuse up here alone" but I still sing it the way I misheard it as a kid: "Rocket man, burning up the streets of Babylon!"

  • Also, somehow, I thought Michael Jackson was singing "Annie are you Walking?" instead of Annie are you OK?

  • I always thought that fabulous driving song by Golden Earring, Radar Love, was actually "Red Hot Love".

  • And I never got the big fuss about the Prodigy song, Smack My B**** Up because I always thought they were just saying, "Snap My Picture!"

For years I've happily sung my own special version of hundreds of songs. But my misunderstandings are by no means limited to music. There are plenty of words and phrases I've botched over the years as well:

  • Wheel"barrel" instead of wheelbarrow

  • "Wreck" and ruin instead of rack and ruin

  • "Acrosst" instead of across (I still accidentally say this one sometimes, to Edward's delight)

  • Death "nail" instead of death knell (I thought it had to do with a coffin nail or something!)

  • Common "old" garden instead of common-or-garden

  • "Mis-cheev-i-ous" instead of pronouncing it how it's spelled; mischievous (Edward loves this one too)
  • For all "intensive" purposes instead of for all intents and purposes
  • "Chester" drawers instead of chest of drawers
  • I always thought my dad was saying "hoppy darn" when he said I'll be darned

And here are a few that people have said to me:

  • "Corky" instead of quirky

  • "Week" hours of the morning instead of wee hours of the morning

  • Call a "truths" instead of call a truce

  • "Rod" iron instead of wrought iron

And there was a lot of stuff on TV I misunderstood as a kid too:

  • Why Eliza Doolittle wanted to get it together with Professor Higgins! He was so horrible and old! I seriously remember being SHOCKED when my older sister told me that Eliza actually loved Rex. HOW?!! But now I LOVE Rex!

  • Why Ichabod Crane never ended up with Katrina in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. I refused to believe that she married Brom Bones!

  • How the Smurfs would go on without becoming extinct since there was only one girl to have all the babies!

I was a very confused child. And I wish I could say it stopped there.


Kevin and Kaylynn Muntifering said...

HAHAHAHA!!! oh my gosh i just laughed so hard. haha. this reminds me of that bar scene in the movie "27 Dresses" when they're singing "Bennie and the Jets" by Elton John and they both have their own set of lyrics to the song and they start arguing about what the right words are. haha
I actually dont know what some of the things are that you mentioned, but just looking at them i can understand how you would have thought they were something different. haha so funny!
i've also heard "three throw" instead of "free throw" in basketball. haha.

this was so funny!

Anonymous said...

I get a kick just like Edward all
the time too.

How about "mercy honest" instead of Mercy on us.

Several phrases in the hymn book popped up and surprised me too as I
grew older and saw the real wording.

The Skillmans said...

Ohhhh this blog gave me the giggles! HILARIOUS!

When I was a kid I thought it was "butt naked" instead of BUCK naked. When someone informed me of my error, I asked, "what's a buck got anything to do with being naked??" This was alarming news for a 12-year old.

I could go on but it would only confirm my stupidity on so many levels.

Anonymous said...

I never realized when I read the word façade that it wasn’t pronounced fukayed. So embarrassing. You are hilarious.

Johnson Jinx 09 said...

Edward probably laughs inside every time I speak.

I still can't get Hyrum to say "but it seemed to be" instead of "but it seemed to me" when singing popcorn popping on the apricot tree. I showed him the lyrics, but he remains firm in his ways. Everyone sings it wrong though.

Anonymous said...

I think it's common all garden not common or garden.

Anonymous said...

This mishearing lyrics phenomenon is called "mondegreen". I learned about it in Cognitive Psychology in college. It's much more common than people realize and so much fun to find out what other people think lyrics are.

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