Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Walking with Roget (Lou and Peter Berryman)

New word menu adds dash of mondegreen

—Associated Press
July 6, 2008

Is it acceptable to serve edamame to a dinner guest who's a pescatarian? And do you wash it down with prosecco or soju? Before your next party, go ahead and consult the latest edition of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, which now includes edamame (immature green soybeans), pescatarian (a vegetarian who eats fish) and about 100 other newly added words that have taken root in the American lexicon.

Quite a mouthful

Many of the new entries reflect the nation's growing interest in the culinary arts, including prosecco (a sparkling Italian wine) and soju (a Korean vodka distilled from rice). Others define new technology or products, such as infinity pool—an outdoor pool with an edge designed to make water appear to flow into the horizon.

Name your fears

Others reflect current events and much-discussed news topics, including dirty bomb (a conventional bomb that releases radioactive material) and norovirus (small, round single-stranded RNA viruses, such as the Norwalk Virus).

Mistaken identity

And then there's mondegreen. In a category of its own, it describes words mistaken for other words. A mondegreen most often comes from misunderstood phrases or lyrics.

It comes from an old Scottish ballad in which the lyric "laid him on the green" has been confused over time with "Lady Mondegreen."Among the best-known modern examples: "There's a bathroom on the right" in place of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "There's a bad moon on the rise" and " 'Scuse me, while I kiss this guy" in place of "kiss the sky" in the 1967 Jimi Hendrix classic "Purple Haze."Merriam-Webster's editors were so amused by the mondegreen concept that they plan to ask people to submit their favorites on the publishing company's Web site.

New to who?

Mondegreen, first spotted in print in 1954, was among tens of thousands of words the wordsmiths watched for decades. That and others make the cut for the dictionary based on how widely they are used in publications ranging from newspapers to technical manuals."They can float for decades. What that means for the most part is that they've been used in more spoken forms than they were found written until recently," said Peter Sokolowski, an editor-at-large for Merriam-Webster.

Et tu, professor?

Allan Metcalf, executive secretary of the American Dialect Society and an English professor at MacMurray College in Illinois, said he thinks the entries that grew from the popularity of cooking shows and international cuisine will be the among most lasting and useful of the newcomers."I'm kind of used to laughing at the choices these editors publicize, but this time I'm impressed," he said.
[ Added 7/12/08: this YouTube video was posted to the Joni-list - hysterical! ]
SONG: Walking with Roget by Lou and Peter Berryman

'Scuse Me While I Kiss This Guy: And Other Misheard Lyrics by Gavin Edwards (author), Chris Kalb (illustrator)

POEM: Eye Halve a Spelling Chequer by Sauce Unknown

Eye halve a spelling chequer
It came with my pea sea
It plainly marques four my revue
Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.

Eye strike a key and type a word
And weight four it two say
Weather eye am wrong oar write
It shows me strait a weigh.

As soon as a mist ache is maid
It nose bee fore two long
And eye can put the error rite
Its rarely ever wrong.

Eye have run this poem threw it
I am shore your pleased two no
Its letter perfect in it's weigh
My chequer tolled me sew.

QUOTE: "It's a strange world of language in which skating on thin ice can get you into hot water." ~ Franklin P. Jones

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