LINGUIST List 6.1488

Mon Oct 23 1995

Sum: Oronyms

Editor for this issue: Ljuba Veselinova <>


  1. Alex Housen, Sum: Oronyms

Message 1: Sum: Oronyms

Date: Mon, 23 Oct 1995 12:39:51 Sum: Oronyms
From: Alex Housen <>
Subject: Sum: Oronyms

Dear Linguists,

I am posting the following summary on behalf of Patrick Nilens.

-Alex Housen


Dear Members of the List,

First of all I would like to thank you all for the big respons that
I got to my request. I do appologise for the lateness of my report.
Below you will find a summery of your contributions.

>From Alex Housen

1.a. I scream
1.b. Ice cream

2.a. Grade A
2.b. Grey day

>From Terri Lander

it's hard to recognize speech
it's hard to wreck a nice beach

>From Tim Baehr/Inso

What is that in the road ahead?
What is that in the road, a head?

He was a lighthouse keeper.
He was a light housekeeper.

What are we having for dinner, Mother?
What are we having for dinner -- mother?

The Focus Farm is where the sun's rays meet.
The Focus Farm is where the sons raise meat.

>From Andrew S Mccullough

What is the point? Stress on what AND point, as in why do something, etc.
What is the point? Stress only on What.. asked in a math class..

>From H. Kelly Shuldberg

I had a foreign student one time who, during a comprehension exercise,
wrote "He's had an attack" when the spoken sentence was actually "He sat on
a tack."

>From Adams Bodomo

ENGLISH (a Germanic language Europe):
1. Time flies
 N V
 (as meaning Rthe clock seems to be going very fast" )
2. Time flies
 V N
 (as meaning "in measure the rate at which flies are
moving" )

NORWEGIAN (a Germanic language of Northern Europe)
1. Vent, ikke skytt ham !
 wait neg shoot him
 'Wait, don't shoot him'

2. Vent ikke, skytt ham !
 wait neg shoot him
 'Wait not, shoot him'

DAGAARE (a Mabia language of West Africa):
1. O kong gaa (low tone on "kong")
 s/he neg+fut go
'S/he will not go' (negative declarative sentence)

2. O kong gaa (high tone on "kong")
 s/he neg+hortative go
'S/he should not have gone' (negative hortative sentence)

>From Nancy Stenson

 A French classmate in grad school taught me this one years ago:

Laurent Pichat, virant, coup hardi, bat Empis.
Lors Empis, chavirant, couard, dit: 'Bah, tant pis.'

>From Larry Horn

 catch it vs. cat shit

of which one variant (I think I read it in Gleason's Intro to Descriptive
Linguistics) is
 night rate vs. nitrate vs. nigh trait (or Nye trait)


(1) He was an English major
(2) He was a giant killer

>From Jack Aubert

Je n'y vois rien.
Jeune Ivoirien

>From Petur Knutsson

The boys are hoarse
The boy's a horse

in accents like RP where 'are' and 'a' are both schwa and 'hoarse' and
'hoarse' are homophones.

>From Susan Meredith Burt

outstanding in the field
out standing in the field

>From Kimberly Barskaitiki
The following are from Steven Pinker (MIT), _The Language Instinct_, (1994

page 160:
The good can decay many ways.
The good candy came anyways.

The stuffy nose can lead to problems
The stuff he knows can lead to problems.

Some others I've seen.
Some mothers I've seen.

page 161: perceived sentence (actual intended sentence. Usually
children make these kinds of mistakes and mis-perceptions.)

Jose can you see by the donzerly light? (Oh say can you see by the dawn's
early light? From "The Star Bangled Banner," the national anthem of the USA)

It's a doggy-dog world. (dog eat dog world)
Eugene O'Neill won a Pullet Surprise. (Pulitzer Prize)
My mother comes from Pencil Vanea. (Pennsylvania)
He was a notor republic. (notary republic)
They played the Bohemian Rap City. (Bohemian Rhapsody)

page 186: oronyms from verse and song lyrics

from the folk ballad "The Bonnie Earl O'Moray:"
 They have slain the Earl of Moray
 And laid him on the green.
Last line perceived as "And Lady Mondegreen."

A girl with colitis goes by. (A girl with kaleidoscope eyes. From
Beatles' song "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.")

Our father wishart in heaven. (Our father which art in heaven. The
Lord's Prayer.)

He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes are wrapped and stored.
(...grapes of wrath are stored. From the famous American song "The Battle
Hymn of the Republic.")

I'll never be your pizza burnin'. (...your beast of burden. From the
Rolling Stones' song.)

It's a happy enchilada, and you think you're gonna drown. (It's a half an
inch of water... From the John Prine song "That's the Way the World Goes
'Round.") (An enchilada is a Mexican food dish, if you didn't know.)

I'm your penis. (..your Venus. Shocking Blue song "I'm Your Venus" heard by
a student who could not understand how it was allowed on the radio.)

My syntax prof told me about this one, and it is in Pinker, too (page 186):
Gladly the cross-eyed bear. (Gladly the cross I'd bear.)

And from my childhood:

She has peer steers. (...pierced ears.) I never knew what "peer steers"
 were until I got older, and it was a big mystery to me.

There are other times when I have mis-perceived utterances, but I did not
write them down at the time (I was probably too embarrased to acknowledge
my errors) and cannot recall them.

page 185:
Four examples of mis-perception from the popular comedy show _Saturday
Night Live_ and the character called Emily Litella (played by the late
Gilda Radner). Three are not really oronyms, but one is:

She argued passionately against stopping violins in the street.
(...violence in the street.)

>From Charles F Juengling

What's in the road ahead?
What's in the road, a head?

>From anonymous

She's got a music album.
She's got a musical bum.

>From Ton van der Wouden

Iced ink vs. I stink

>From Markell R West

pinch her ear
pinch her rear

>From Stanley Dubinsky

This guy is falling/The sky is falling

>From Karen Ward

It's not easy to wreck a nice beach.
It's not easy to recognize speech.

sixty sick sheep
sixty six sheep

Sent in by Sue Hasselbring (

These were learned in a syntax course taught by Evelyn
Pike (they may be her creations - they aren't mine)

How is a glass container like a partially open door?

They're both a jar. They're both ajar.

How is a haystack like a mouse?

The cattle eat it. The cat'll eat it.

How is a moth flying around a candle like a gate?

If it keeps on it singes its wings.
If it keeps on its hinges, it swings.

pinch her ear
pinch her rear

>From George Aaron Broadwell

Due originally to Ray Jackendoff:

 We needed a cantor.
 We need a decanter.

Original to me (I think)

 We went to Caesar
 We went to seize her.

>From Dennis Holt

"I don't think their sight or smell's that good."

"I don't think their cider smells that good."

>From Andrew S Mccullough

It's a mass of mold.
It's a massive mold.

His story was never clear to me.
History was never clear to me.

>From Stuart Watts

More Ice v. More Rice

Patrick Nilens Applied Sciences Dept.
Digital Signal Processing Of Speech Signals
Free University of Brussels (VUB) Pleinlaan 2, 1050 Brussels, Belgium
Tel:+32-2-6292939; Fax:+32-2-6292883;
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