[M.M.X.I.V. 183] Lotta commas

When I think of commas, I think of music before I think of Oxford.  In particular,  notation in music comes up, as also does a common Mondegreen from the 80s.  Let me start from the notation, and then the obvious (?) Mondegreen will appear.

When I was in elementary school music class, both for trumpet and vocal music, the song sheets included breath marks, which are denoted by apostrophes.  However, because an apostrophe sometimes looks like a comma superscripted (instead of subscripted), this is how I interpreted it.  Plus, in some sense, I feel that a comma is used as a breath mark in spoken language.

In particular, the teacher sometimes asked us to write “No breath” or “N.B.” above points where we are NOT supposed to take breaths.  And, they would have us add breath marks (apostrophes/commas) above the parts on the song where we were allowed to take breaths.  Additionally, “harder” parts of the song were often denoted with eyeglasses drawn in.  So, in looking at it, I sometimes mused in my own head, “No breath.  Comma.  Comma.  Comma.  Sunglasses.”  (Plus, if I said “No breath.  Apostrophe.  Apostrophe.  Apostrophe.  Sunglasses,” it doesn’t roll off the tongue or mind so easily :p )

(When I was younger, I did not like some of the songs by popular female artists, because their breath breaks were particularly obvious to me, and I felt that it distracted from the song.  Right now, however, I can’t think of a specific example, but I’d know it if I heard it.)

That last line from the non-parenthetical paragraph should make it obvious what the Mondegreen is.  Courtesy of Bobbi Jo Woods, here it is, pictorially.

Credit to Bobbi Jo Woods.

Credit to Bobbi Jo Woods.

Yep, it’s the misheard lyrics from the Culture Club’s “Karma Chameleon.”  I like this image, because it also includes Kum & Go, which is a gas station in Iowa and western Nebraska that reminds me of road trips.  Plus, I have always been positively subjected to the whirlwind of puns.

It is really interesting how the “r” phoneme tends to drop in this and other cases in order to create Mondegreens.  Readers, can you think of other songs or speech patterns where the dropping of a phoneme makes something sound completely different?


Today is the one-hundred and eighty-third day of M.M.X.I.V.  That makes twenty-seven weeks and one day.


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