What’s a Mondegreen?

A mondegreen is a mishearing or misinterpretation of something said. A so-called ‘slip of the ear’.

Growing up in a Spanglish household in California, mondegreens were the norm for me as I switched back and forth between two languages. Being married to a tri-lingual Spaniard has opened up another can of mondegreens. I once asked D-Man if he had seen Sleepless in Seattle and his response was, “What? Sleep Licenciado?” He thought I was talking about a degree in sleep!

On another occasion, one of my bilingual Spanish friends was visiting. She made herself comfortable in the living room, and began knitting away while I made dinner for us. I thought it was absolutely adorable that she was knitting, and I gushed, “You’re nesting!” My friend looked very confused for a second, before realizing that I had said “you’re nesting”, and not “you’re nasty”. She later told me that had I not been smiling broadly, she wouldn’t have realized she had misheard me!

I should probably start recording all the mondegreens that come up in my conversations…


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