Thursday 18 February 2016

Mondegreen, Malaporopism, 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, so if you quieten down for a moment at the back, I'm just about to explain.

Mondegreens are a mishearing or misinterpretation of a phrase as a result of a near homophony. In a way that gives the sentence 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 form of song or 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 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!' Confusion ensues, until you realise the truth of what you misheard.

In a strange sort of way with mondegreens - its almost always misread or misheard in exactly the way it was not contextually intended. But with today's music lyrics – there are few if any clues. Because the lyrics are often a jumble of seemingly meaningless rhyming words. We even have an old saying 'reading between the lines' which usually means we are going to put our own interpretation on it. By 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 a deliberate form of mondegreen, into an art form. Hilda Baker (A lady small in stature but with a no nonsense attitude and a thick northern regional accent) 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 'Cynthia says you are not fit to live in a pig sty – but I put her right and I told her 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 – which today are lacking in either independence or morality. A typical example is When asked by a reporter '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 'Black Propaganda'. The world is full of propaganda. The real exponents of propaganda (usually political) do it in such a way that the propaganda seems to be quite believable and therefore is apparently acceptable. Propaganda is used to create a false illusion. Propaganda is however generally accepted as being a bad thing. There are very few if any newspapers available in the United Kingdom, which have a free from control editorial content. Especially one that is not being dictated by the newspaper owner. White propaganda on the other hand are news items that are deliberately ignored. Stories that should be on and in the news are sometimes not reported (suppressed) by the media. Advertising revenue can also dictate editorial direction. Usually when the main thrust of the suppressed news item. Was aimed at one of the newspapers regular advertisers. So for some big businesses, paying advertising revenue can give you some protection from culpable exposure in the media.

However, there are other comparisons that can be made to various shades of propaganda that are also neither inadvertent or accidental. If propaganda fails, the last bastion of covering up or distorting the truth is Spin. In the Palace of Westminster the political party which is in power tend to employ the services of a team of '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 the super gun case. He said in court the government was being 'conservative with the actuality'. Clarke was even spinning the word 'lie' into a representation of the word lie as being an almost acceptable untruth. That phrase was engineered to say we are not 'telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth' as the courts should insist. But put in a spun form that was seemingly acceptable to the courts. By this ruse legalese perceptions are then distorted, political and legal wriggle room is thus created. Thus the ultimate culpability is lessened.

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