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Festive Mondegreens

Olive, the other reindeer: misheard lyrics

What did you talk about over Christmas lunch? One of the discussions that had everyone giggling at our family gathering was a debate about mondegreens, the misheard song lyrics and phrases that you often only discover are wrong years down the line.

The name itself comes from the words and laid him on the green from a Scottish ballad, misheard as and Lady Mondegreen.

An old example someone remembered was hearing and into the hole ‘e goes instead of and unto the Holy Ghost at an unfortunate man’s funeral, and my own personal example, thinking the correct phrase was when did your last slave die off? instead of what did your last slave die of?

Famous songs provided mirth including:

I sometimes wish I’d never been boiled in oil (Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody)


The girl with colitis goes by (Beatles, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds)

More festive examples we looked up included:

Noel, noel, noel, noel, Barney’s the King of Israel.

and how about

Olive, the other reindeer, used to laugh and call him names.

The only serious point here is when we don’t realise we’ve been getting something wrong for years, and continue to use it in conversation (or even text). It makes some people quite cross, indeed, Weird Al Yankovic has written an entire song about Word Crimes.

Come and hear us discussing terrible text at Museums Showoff in February, or join us at a TextWorkshop to avoid the pitfalls. Happy new year.

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