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

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Tue Sep 11 16:06:12 UTC 2018

> On Sep 11, 2018, at 1:48 AM, James A. Landau <JJJRLandau at NETSCAPE.COM> wrote:
> 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).
> <snip>
>   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 
>     https://www.cse.unsw.edu.au/~norman/Jokes-file/StudentBloopers.htm
> 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”

More likely from “uranium bomb”, I would think
> 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”

Related to my “And to the republic for Richard Sands”

> "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 favorite reanalysis in this verse is:

Born on a mountaintop in Tennessee
Greenest state in the land of the free
Raised in the woods so’s he knew every tree
Killed in a bar when he was only three

Not actually something I came up with myself, but attested independently by many people who presumably hadn’t spent much time with bears (much less b'ars) or personal datives (< “kilt him a b’ar”) but were familiar with bars.  How Davy would have achieved his levels of accomplishment and fame if had been killed in a bar at age three would presumably have been a puzzle for another time, but it is a legend after all…  


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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list