Wednesday, 10 February 2016

No Bad News.

Today's three words are: Mondegreen, Propaganda and Spin.

I have decided that the Internet is infected with a bad case of mondegreen. What in heavens name are mondegreens? I hear you say.

Mondegreens are a mishearing or misinterpretation of a phrase as a result of near-homophony, in a way that gives it a whole new meaning. Mondegreens are a sort of aural malapropism. Instead of saying or writing the wrong word, you hear or see the wrong word. The word mondegreen is generally used for misheard song lyrics, although technically it can apply to any speech.

Am I Right ( is a famous music humour site dealing in misheard song lyrics. Mondegreens are funny of course. They also give us insight into the underlying nature of linguistic processing and how our minds make such almost subliminal connections.

A mondegreen is when you write or say something and then someone else accidentally reads or hears it completely differently. A mondegreen is usually an accidental misread or misheard comment. Lets say that you get pulled over by the police and the copper says - 'I'm going to report you for driving without duke hair and a truncheon!'

In a strange sort of way with mondegreens - its almost always read or heard in exactly the way you intended it should not be. We even have an old saying 'reading between the lines' which usually means we are going to put our own interpretation on it. Reading into the message something that's not actually there. Or putting two and two together and coming up with five.

Real mondegreens can be thought of as a form of 'dyslexia of the mouth' or just a simple 'smelling pisstake' (spoonerism) where both are inadvertent and accidental. However, some comediennes have turned deliberate mondegreens into an art form. Hilda Baker was one such master when she would talk about having an 'hystericalrectomy!' or some other such woman's complaint. With a smattering of throw-a-way (back handed) complements such as 'Joe says you are not fit to live in a pig sty – but I put him right and I told him you were!'

There are other comparisons that can be made to mondegreens that are neither inadvertent or accidental. Its a bit like the current crop of so called newspapers – With owner directed editorial direction – lacking in either independence or morality.

A typical example is When asked 'should Tony Blair stand trial for war crimes?' Jeremy Corbyn answers 'If he has committed a war crime, yes. Everyone who's committed a war crime should be. When asked 'Is he going to be tried for it.' Jeremy Corbyn answers 'I don't know.' When asked 'Could he be tried for it?' Jeremy Corbyn answers 'Possibly.''

The Express headline said 'Tony Blair must face trial for war crimes, says Jeremy Corbyn. The word for deliberate misreporting of the news is propaganda. The world is full of propaganda. The real exponents of propaganda do it in such a way that it seems to be believable and therefore acceptable. Propaganda is used to create an illusion and generally is accepted abs being a bad thing. There are very few newspapers available in the United Kingdom with a free from control editorial content especially one that is not dictated by the newspaper owner.

However, there are other comparisons that can be made to propaganda and mondegreens that are also neither inadvertent or accidental. In the Palace of Westminster the political party which is in power tend to employ 'spin' doctors to manipulate political information. There is also the periodic - hide the bad news day – which normally takes place late on a Friday afternoon or when some other cataclysmic event has captured the media's attention.

Spin is what Alan Clark MP referred to in court as being 'conservative with the actuality' in other words. In this case, even spinning the word 'lie' into a poor representation of an untruth. That phrase was engineered to say we are not 'telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth!' In a form that was acceptable to the courts. But, our perceptions are distorted and political and legal wriggle room is created.

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