[Ads-l] Children's speech errors; 3 examples

James A. Landau JJJRLandau at NETSCAPE.COM
Tue Sep 11 05:48:24 UTC 2018

On Sat Sep 8 11:11:44 EDT 2018 Cohen, Gerald Leonard gcohen at MST.EDU wrote:
<quote> For some time I've been collecting examples of children's 
misinterpretations of words or phrases whose meaning are
beyond  their comprehension. One example from the Pledge
of Allegiance:  "for livercheese and jello for all" (with liberty
and justice for all).
   If anyone has any additional examples of such misinterpretations in
children's speech, I'd of course welcome receiving them.<end quote>

There is an article entitled "The World According to Student Bloopers" which has been around for years.  It is available at 
or by Googling on "student bloopers".

Here are some misinterprations from my own childhood:

"next store" for "next door" (this has been documented in ADS-L)

"the safternoon" for "this afternoon"

"Dayton nut bread" for "date and nut bread"

from around first grade "geranium bomb" for "atomic bomb"

I saw some cars from the Nickel Plate Railroad on the Baxter Avenue viaduct (in my home town of Louisville KY) and decided that structure was the "penny-duct" 

in Louisville's Cherokee Park there is an area known as "Big Rock".  For years I thought the song "Big Rock Candy Mountain" should be interpreted as "(big rock) (candy mountain)"

Also in Cherokee Park there is the pavilion at Hogan's Fountain which I renamed "the boarding house at Grogan's Water Faucet"

I never came up with "Jose can you see" or "Hosea can you see" but I thought the Star-Spangled Banner was addressed to a man named "Say"

The fourth stanza of "My Country "Tis of Thee" I heard as "Our fathers' God to Thee/Arthur of Liberty"

"The Ballad of Davy Crockett" I heard as "Born on a mountaintop in Tennessee/Realest state in the land of the free".  I did not make the transistion to "real estate in the land of the free".

my first attempt at etymology was to decide "substitute [teacher]" meant "underteacher" from "sub" ("under") and "tute" ("tutor")

I read about St. Elmo's fire and the text said it was originally named after a St. Erasmus (?).  The text then read "Usage changed the name to St. Elmo".  For the longest time I wondered about this Mr. Usage who went around changing names.

My son when he was nursery-school age decided that the appliance sitting next to the dryer necessarily had to be the "wetter"

- Jim Landau

Netscape.  Just the Net You Need.

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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