"Visual mondegreens"

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"Visual mondegreens"

Postby nisiprius » Mon Feb 28, 2011 10:46 pm

We have probably all had the experience of glancing at print and, for a split second, thinking that it said something different from what it really said. I like to call this a "visual mondegreen," after the folksingers' name for misheard lyrics ("They hae slain the Earl O' Moray/And laid him on the green" becomes "They hae slain the Earl O' Moray and Lady Mondegreen.") And, also, of course, a visual mondegreen for "visual migraine."

I seem to notice more of them as I age.

Here are some things I think I've seen, until I blinked and looked again. See if you can guess what they really were, and share your own.

Sign on shop: "Illusion repair"

Newspaper: "The Christian Science Money"

Ad: "The all-new 2011 Ford Explorer spirituality vehicle"

Finance magazine: "3 Health-Care Snacks for 2011"

Online bank product: "Electric Sponge"

Error message on a website down for maintenance: "We sincerely apologize for the incontinence."

Computer message: "Do you want to save this life, or find a program online to open it?"

P. S. I'm sure Lewis Carroll experienced visual mondegreens, and that they inspired The Mad Gardener's Song: "He thought he saw an Albatross/That fluttered round the lamp:/He looked again, and found it was/A Penny-Postage Stamp." He obviously experienced visual migraines as well; the description in Through the Looking-Glass, in "Wool and Water," "whenever she looked hard at any shelf, to make out exactly what it had on it, that particular shelf was always quite, empty, though the others round it were crowded as full as they could hold"--is unmistakable to anyone who's experienced visual migraines.
Last edited by nisiprius on Tue Mar 01, 2011 10:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Parthenon » Tue Mar 01, 2011 11:29 am

I do it all the time. First thing in the morning I open a browser with Google as the home page and select "news" from the upper left hand corner. A whole page of news items with highlighted titles comes up and I'll jump to conclusions as to what it really said.

This morning, for instance:

"US Urges Orman to Show Restraint in Response to Rare Protests"

I mentally added the R to Oman. Must be a sign of old age; Hope not of impending senility.

Ed
"What am I gonna do if I run out of money?"
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Postby Jake46 » Tue Mar 01, 2011 11:37 am

And I thought that I was the only one that experiences this!
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Postby DRiP Guy » Tue Mar 01, 2011 12:00 pm

I also use Google news, and also experience at least one morning "self-induced visual scanning" mondegreen.
:shock:


At that point I usually have a chuckle at myself, and then (if I am not in a hurry) take a moment to wonder what the psychological significance of my own subconscious substitution was. If any.

:lol:
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Postby whatever » Tue Mar 01, 2011 12:28 pm

On TV, I always do a double take when I see the words "Pawn Stars" from the History channel. Well, what do you think I see?
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Postby DRiP Guy » Tue Mar 01, 2011 3:19 pm

whatever wrote:On TV, I always do a double take when I see the words "Pawn Stars" from the History channel. Well, what do you think I see?


'Prawn Stars', of course -- a new Campbell's soup flavor!

:wink:
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Postby bpp » Tue Mar 01, 2011 7:32 pm

Just this morning spotted a Subaru Literacy.
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Postby nisiprius » Tue Mar 01, 2011 9:30 pm

bpp wrote:Just this morning spotted a Subaru Literacy.
I love it!

By the way, it is not solely an aging phenomenon. I'd almost forgotten that when I was ten or eleven I actually got into an argument with my parents because I was so sure that I'd seen a copy of "The Sunday Evening Post."
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Postby SP-diceman » Tue Mar 01, 2011 9:39 pm

There are two posts on this site:

1) Household Tips

2) Tips on cleaning hardwood floors.


I read them as:


1) Household TIPS

2) TIPS on cleaning hardwood floors.



Thanks
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Postby dm200 » Tue Mar 01, 2011 10:59 pm

Growing up on a farm (with chickens), I was puzzled when, every year, there was a big deal made n the media over the "Pullet Surprise"
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Postby livesoft » Tue Mar 01, 2011 11:04 pm

Buffett's Animal Investor Letter is out
It's all about short-term opportunistic rebalancing due to a short-term change in one's asset allocation, uh, I mean opportunistic rebalancing, uh I mean rebalancing, uh I mean market timing.
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Postby Scott S » Wed Mar 02, 2011 12:12 pm

nisiprius wrote:
bpp wrote:Just this morning spotted a Subaru Literacy.
I love it!

By the way, it is not solely an aging phenomenon. I'd almost forgotten that when I was ten or eleven I actually got into an argument with my parents because I was so sure that I'd seen a copy of "The Sunday Evening Post."


Yeah, it's definitely not just an aging thing (unless poor eyesight is to blame). I noticed as a pretty young kid that if I stared at a word long enough, the meaning dissociated from the symbols on the page, and all of a sudden, it was just a collection of lines and curves. If you're in that state, or on the way to it, it's pretty easy for your brain to "suggest" other words that are like it. :cool:

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Postby nisiprius » Wed Mar 02, 2011 12:27 pm

dm200 wrote:Growing up on a farm (with chickens), I was puzzled when, every year, there was a big deal made n the media over the "Pullet Surprise"
Believe it or not, I had to Google to get that. I don't know which is more surprising, that I had to Google for it or that Googling worked.

But are you sure it was really a visual mondegreen rather than an auditory one, a mondegreen in the usual sense? If I'd read the words aloud I'd have gotten it.
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Postby DRiP Guy » Wed Mar 02, 2011 12:50 pm

nisiprius wrote:
dm200 wrote:Growing up on a farm (with chickens), I was puzzled when, every year, there was a big deal made n the media over the "Pullet Surprise"
Believe it or not, I had to Google to get that. I don't know which is more surprising, that I had to Google for it or that Googling worked.

But are you sure it was really a visual mondegreen rather than an auditory one, a mondegreen in the usual sense? If I'd read the words aloud I'd have gotten it.
Exactly. Auditory mondegreens can be pretty funny ("watch out for the under-toad".... " 'scuze me while I kiss this guy", "there's the bathroom on the right," etc)* but are often persistent, because once misheard, they tend to get mentally fixed in our brains, sometimes for years until with a burst of sudden realization (or explaination) we hear the *real* meaning. The visual mondegreen instead seems more likely to be a momentary phenomenon, due to casual misreading... followed by the suspicion that something isn't quite right and then self-correction upon closer inspection of the text. It seems like I was having one or two a day for a while, but none this week that I can recall.


*(undertow (from Garp), 'scuze me, while I kiss the sky (Hendricks), there's a bad moon on the rise (Creedence) )
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Postby moretolearn » Wed Mar 02, 2011 1:34 pm

I recently clicked a link to the Bogleheads Guide to Retirement Planning. It went to the Amazon page, with the "Look Inside!" feature, that pops up a little menu of options, including

Front Cover
Table of Contents
First Pages
Index
Surprise Mel

It took me a minute to realize that was "Surprise Me!"

I wonder what it would take to surprise Mel.
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Postby Mel Lindauer » Wed Mar 02, 2011 10:05 pm

moretolearn wrote:I recently clicked a link to the Bogleheads Guide to Retirement Planning. It went to the Amazon page, with the "Look Inside!" feature, that pops up a little menu of options, including

Front Cover
Table of Contents
First Pages
Index
Surprise Mel

It took me a minute to realize that was "Surprise Me!"

I wonder what it would take to surprise Mel.


How about a long-lost relative leaving me a pot of gold? :-}
Best Regards - Mel

Semper Fi
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Postby jstat » Sat Mar 05, 2011 10:22 am

I found this headline disturbing at first:

"Yanks' Martin catches an impressive Colon"

Capital "C", right...
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Postby dm200 » Sat Mar 05, 2011 3:33 pm

jstat wrote:I found this headline disturbing at first:

"Yanks' Martin catches an impressive Colon"

Capital "C", right...


A week or so ago, the headline was "Colon Deesn't Stink"
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Re: "Visual mondegreens"

Postby Triple digit golfer » Sat Mar 05, 2011 3:39 pm

Sign on shop: "Illusion repair" Collision repair

Newspaper: "The Christian Science Money" Christian Science Monitor

Ad: "The all-new 2011 Ford Explorer spirituality vehicle" ???

Finance magazine: "3 Health-Care Snacks for 2011" Scams???

Online bank product: "Electric Sponge" Electric Orange

Error message on a website down for maintenance: "We sincerely apologize for the incontinence." Inconvenience

Computer message: "Do you want to save this life, or find a program online to open it?" File
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Re: "Visual mondegreens"

Postby nisiprius » Sat Mar 05, 2011 6:58 pm

A new one, just this morning:

Newspaper headline: "Ice cream causes more than two dozen crashes."

(The word "cream" was not in the headline).

Triple digit golfer wrote:Ad: "The all-new 2011 Ford Explorer spirituality vehicle" ???
Sport utility vehicle
Finance magazine: "3 Health-Care Snacks for 2011" Scams???
Stocks.
Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness; Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.
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Postby woof755 » Mon Mar 07, 2011 4:13 pm

Saw this: Doctors aim to save fertility of kids with cancer


Brain read this: Doctors aim to terrify kids with cancer.

Perils of skimming!
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Postby chaz » Mon Mar 07, 2011 4:22 pm

Maybe glasses are needed for reading.
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Postby greenspam » Mon Mar 07, 2011 4:35 pm

sometimes the brain gets the letters right, but still misinterprets the word:

walking past an italian deli in nyc, and on the phone with my sister, who is married to an italian, i asked her what is in this 'pre-mah-day' sandwich they are adverstising???

she had never heard of a pre-mah-day sandwich.

i looked again, and realized that the deli sign for 'premade sandwiches' was simply indicating you could buy sandwiches that had been made and wrapped earlier that day. pre= latin for before. perhaps if they had used a hyphen???

doh!
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greenie.

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Postby Grasshopper » Tue Mar 08, 2011 9:44 am

On the ER forum there was a post about Slim fast diet.

I read it as the Slim Jim diet, and wondered why anyone would chose SJ as a diet food. :roll:
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Postby beardsworth » Tue Mar 08, 2011 10:00 am

Some of these misreadings can actually be encouraged by the word sequencing in the original, especially misplaced modifiers.

There have been any number of threads on this forum in which a novice Boglehead, of age (for example) 24, starts a thread with the title: "Need help constructing 24–year–old portfolio." And every time I read one of those titles, I take it literally and immediately think: Well, if you've already had your portfolio for 24 years, isn't it a bit late to be asking for help?

Or, in the "misplaced modifier" example one of my high school English teachers liked to use: Coming in on the train, the Empire State Building was seen." :)

Not quite what nisiprius had in mind, in which printed words are literally read as other words, but opportunities for confusion are abundant.

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Postby gotherelate » Tue Mar 08, 2011 1:34 pm

nisiprius wrote:
bpp wrote:Just this morning spotted a Subaru Literacy.
I love it!

By the way, it is not solely an aging phenomenon. I'd almost forgotten that when I was ten or eleven I actually got into an argument with my parents because I was so sure that I'd seen a copy of "The Sunday Evening Post."


When I was a young child I would kneel next to my bed at night and say the Lord's Prayer containing the phrase: "the king didn't come." instead of "thy kingdom come."
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Postby DRiP Guy » Tue Mar 08, 2011 7:38 pm

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Postby baw703916 » Tue Mar 08, 2011 8:10 pm

My grandmother once thought that "merbt" was a kind of wine I liked, due to misreading my handwriting.
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Re: "Visual mondegreens"

Postby beardsworth » Mon Mar 14, 2011 7:19 am

nisiprius wrote:We have probably all had the experience of glancing at print and, for a split second, thinking that it said something different from what it really said.


Just glancing down the main list of Bogleheads thread titles this morning, and there was one entitled "Sorry, another student loan question." Except that I read it as "Sorry, another strident loan question." And in the space of a second, before the letters clarified themselves, I thought: "Well, why didn't you revise it before posting, so it wouldn't be so strident, and then you wouldn't have to apologize for it?" :)

All of which, of course, is about my own eye/brain connections and has nothing to do with anything intended by the originator of that thread, but it reminded me of this earlier "misperceptions" thread begun by nisiprius.

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Postby grabiner » Mon Mar 14, 2011 8:19 pm

gotherelate wrote:When I was a young child I would kneel next to my bed at night and say the Lord's Prayer containing the phrase: "the king didn't come." instead of "thy kingdom come."


This type is probably the most common, because of children memorizing words or phrases that they don't understand. Did you learn the Pledge over Legions in school?
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Postby nisiprius » Mon Mar 14, 2011 9:26 pm

grabiner wrote:
gotherelate wrote:When I was a young child I would kneel next to my bed at night and say the Lord's Prayer containing the phrase: "the king didn't come." instead of "thy kingdom come."


This type is probably the most common, because of children memorizing words or phrases that they don't understand. Did you learn the Pledge over Legions in school?
Oh, sure. I went to a summer camp near the Canadian border and every day they'd blow a bugle call and we'd gather around the flagpole and sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" and "O Canada" and something I've never heard before or since that was quite sweet, that they said was the "United Nations Hymn."

Anyway for years I couldn't understand why Canadians were proud of being neither "true nor strong and free." It never occurred to me to ask, I was just a kid.

But to me the visual transformations are quite different in character and quite piquant. There is often no obvious resemblance in the portion of the word that is changed or transformed, as there usually is with auditory misinterpretation. You can tell why the kid thought he was praying "Lead us not into Penn Station." It's very hard to explain why someone thought he saw a "Subaru Literacy." The visual transformations don't seem to match Bayesian likelihoods.
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Postby beardsworth » Mon Mar 14, 2011 10:11 pm

grabiner wrote:Did you learn the Pledge over Legions in school?


I could never figure out the location of "the republic for Richard Stans." :)

Here are some other variations:

http://www.iusedtobelieve.com/school/the_pledge/
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Postby DRiP Guy » Sun Apr 10, 2011 4:31 pm

Tina Fey apologized over having second child?

http://www.people.com/people/article/0, ... 75,00.html


(misread via Google News with smaller font, not People article)
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Postby DRiP Guy » Tue Apr 12, 2011 9:42 am

This was not so much a visual mondegreen as a mental one -- as a child of the seventies, I watched a lot of Cisco the Kid and Flip Wilson, and we grew up hearing about a lot of ethnic gang fighting, where knives were favored weapons... so this headline sounded like a particularly bad one to me....

Reuters

Cisco kills Flip, cuts 550 workers

http://money.cnn.com/2011/04/12/technol ... ney_latest
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Postby woof755 » Fri Apr 15, 2011 10:15 am

Read this Bogleheads thread title:

"If you have a "play money" account, how has it faired?"

and saw this: "...how has it failed?"
"By singing in harmony from the same page of the same investing hymnal, the Diehards drown out market noise."

--Jason Zweig, quoted in The Bogleheads' Guide to Investing
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Postby nisiprius » Fri Apr 15, 2011 2:47 pm

Just today, I thought I saw a thread whose subject line was "The Cost of Value Titling."

Then I looked again, and saw... it really was.

Image

Of course, it really should be "The Cost of Valve Titling." :)
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Postby baw703916 » Fri Apr 15, 2011 8:33 pm

grabiner wrote:
gotherelate wrote:When I was a young child I would kneel next to my bed at night and say the Lord's Prayer containing the phrase: "the king didn't come." instead of "thy kingdom come."


This type is probably the most common, because of children memorizing words or phrases that they don't understand. Did you learn the Pledge over Legions in school?


I always wondered why our Nation was invisible... :roll:
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Postby TenS2XS » Fri Apr 15, 2011 9:40 pm

Jake46 wrote:And I thought that I was the only one that experiences this!


+1
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Postby gotherelate » Fri Apr 15, 2011 11:57 pm

I thought this topic was an insult to Bogleheads' intelligence when I first read it.
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Postby nisiprius » Thu Apr 21, 2011 9:06 pm

Cheap/Reusable Casket Source? (Blinks twice and looks again). No, thank goodness.
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Postby woof755 » Fri May 13, 2011 12:21 pm

If I may take this liberty:

Munir wrote:

It took me a while to realize that the heading was RTP and [not] RIP.


...in response to the RTP Diehards chapter meeting thread.
"By singing in harmony from the same page of the same investing hymnal, the Diehards drown out market noise."

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Postby nisiprius » Sun May 15, 2011 12:33 pm

Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness; Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.
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Postby DRiP Guy » Mon May 23, 2011 6:37 pm

This one got me:

"Mother of Giants' fan beaten into coma angry at
attackers, bystanders"
"CNN International - ‎May 19, 2011‎"
http://news.google.com/nwshp?hl=en&tab=wn

At first I thought: "Now it's not just a Dad that got beaten down, but somehow a Mom has also been beaten, too in another incident?"
And I thought, "Well, yeah, she has a right to be angry! Anyone who gets beaten has a right!"
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Postby nisiprius » Fri Jun 03, 2011 12:15 pm

Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness; Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.
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Postby Faith20879 » Fri Jun 03, 2011 1:44 pm

Maybe you folks are not trying to be funny but I am laughing so hard that I have to take a break from reading this.

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Postby Random Musings » Fri Jun 03, 2011 2:00 pm

A recent thread titled "Hardcore Pawn" had my mind working in a different direction.....

RM
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Postby nisiprius » Sat Jun 04, 2011 12:05 pm

Headline: "Maine outlaws texting while driving." No real mondegreen, but my first mental image was Bonnie and Clyde with cell phones; shame on those outlaws, they shouldn't be distracted during a getaway.
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Postby DRiP Guy » Tue Jun 07, 2011 7:13 pm

Saw this on Fark and it flat broke me up!

Image

:lol:
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Postby Simplegift » Tue Jun 07, 2011 7:48 pm

When I first saw the title of this Bogleheads discussion last week, I was sure it was from a homeowner seeking help with a serious foundation problem:

Tiny House Movement
Cordially, Todd
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Postby woof755 » Fri Jun 10, 2011 5:00 pm

I thought this Boglehead was asking for portfolio advice for his crazy fiance.

http://www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=76268&mrr=1307737377

(Crazy finace [sic]; need help with AA strategy)
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