I pledge allegiance to the flag
of the United States of America
and to the Republic
for Richard Stands … .
Maybe YOU were able to make sense of all the chanted lines in the Pledge of Allegiance. Took me a while. So, I can understand how many American schoolchildren came up with such unintentionally humorous phrases as “Richard Stands” or even “witches stands” for the line that goes “which it stands.”
“Richard Stands” is one of the most common mishearings or misinterpretations of the words to the Pledge of Allegiance — and one of the best examples of a class of creative homonyms dubbed mondegreens.
Mondegreen is a term coined by American writer and editor Sylvia Wright in a column for Harper’s Magazine (1954). Seems that Ms. Wright had misheard the last line in a favorite Scottish ballad – the line being “And laid him on the green” – as “And Lady Mondegreen.” The neologism stuck.
When you perceive a word, lyric or phrase as another viable word or phrase — that’s a mondegreen. And the thing is, it may be years before you find yourself slapping your forehead and saying, “Oh, is THAT what it says?!” Mondegreens tend to be very personal, however several examples, especially in song, have achieved classic status.
Famous song mondegreens of a certain era:
- “Scuse me while I kiss this guy” from Purple Haze, Jimi Hendrix
- “You and me and Leslie” from Groovin, The Young Rascals
One more thing about mondegreen, the word. It’s been slow to be accepted by the dictionary police. It’s not in my Merriam-Websters Collegiate Dictionary – Eleventh Edition, but IS in the M-W 2008 update.
July 04 2009 03:08 pm | mondegreen
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