28 December 2008

Seasonal mondegreens

Since I learned the word "mondegreen" (for a misheard song lyric or other phrase) from Ray Girvan, a year ago, I have taken extra pleasure in what was already an amusing phenomenon. I was inordinately pleased, at the time, to discover one in my own back catalogue, and have since classified in retrospect a mental drawerful of oddments.

Two items from my own childhood which found a new place in the hierarchy of knowledge were lines of the Lord's Prayer from early school years ("Our father which art in heaven, Hello to thy name...") and a possibly Disney theme song about Davey Crockett ("Davey, Davey Crockett, king of the wild front here") from even earlier.

The past week has brought me two new examples from the same song.

The song is an old, traditional and anonymous one:

The north wind doth blow,
And we shall have snow,
And what will the robin do then,
Poor thing?

He'll sit in a barn,
To keep himself warm,
And hide his head under his wing,
Poor thing.

The two different children singing this on two separate days both seemed to think that Robin was a person, not a bird. They dropped the word "the" and sang "And what will Robin do then...".

More interestingly, both replaced the word "barn" in the first line of the second stanza. Child 1 sang "He'll sit in a bar", child 2 "He'll sit in a bath". Two radically different views of life and comfort...