Dogs are Smarter than People

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We’ve all done it. We’ve misheard song lyrics or actual words. We’ve argued about whether someone was saying Laurel or Yanni. But there is an actual term for that. According to Merriam Webster Dictionary, a mondegreen is “a word or phrase that results from a mishearing of something said or sung.” I had a whole character in my first book that did this all the time. Sylvia Wright made up the word in 1954 when she wrote an article about it for The Atlantic or possibly Harpers (these are the two most common citings), “The Death of Lady Mondegreen.” She’d loved this Scottish song or poem that went They hae slain the Earl AmurrayAnd laid him on the green. That last line sounded like Lady Mondegreen to her. According to an article in the New Yorker by Maria Konnikova, Hearing is a two-step process. First, there is the auditory perception itself: the physics of sound waves making their way through your ear and into the auditory cortex of your brain. And then there is the meaning-making: the part where your brain takes the noise and imbues it with significance. That was a car alarm. That’s a bird. Mondegreens occur when, somewhere between the sound and the meaning, communication breaks down. You hear the same acoustic information as everyone else, but your brain doesn’t interpret it the same way. What’s less immediately clear is why, precisely, that happens. The article goes on to say, A common cause of mondegreens, in particular, is the oronym: word strings in which the sounds can be logically divided multiple ways. One version that Pinker describes goes like this: Eugene O’Neill won a Pullet Surprise.  Other times, the culprit is the perception of the sound itself: some letters and letter combinations sound remarkably alike, and we need further cues, whether visual or contextual, to help us out. In their absence, one sound can be mistaken for the other. For instance, in a phenomenon known as the McGurk effect, people can be made to hear one consonant when a similar one is being spoken. “There’s a bathroom on the right” standing in for “there’s a bad moon on the rise” is a succession of such similarities adding up to two equally coherent alternatives.  NME’s site has an article on the top forty misheard song lyrics and it’s hysterical. It’s a British site and you should check it out, but their top three are: Number One – Dire Straits’s “Money For Nothing.” Wrong lyric: “Money for nothin’ and chips for free.” Correct lyric: “Money for nothin’ and your chicks for free” Number 2 Wrong Lyric – Paul Young’s “Everytime You Go Away.” Wrong Lyric: “Every time you go away, you take a piece of meat with you.” Correct lyric: “Every time you go away take a piece of me with you.” Number 4 Wrong Lyric (Yes, we skipped three) – Starship’s ‘We Built This City.’ Wrong lyric: “We built this city on sausage rolls.” Correct lyric: “We built
  1. I'm Farting Carrots. Oh, the Mondegreen
  2. How Do You Make Your Story Thrilling and Sunbathing Your Testicles?
  3. Where Does Inspiration Come From and Raccoons Robbing Banks
  4. The Five Senses of Farts, Dangerous Croissant Animals, and Random Writing Tips About Settings
  5. Goat Voyeurs UFOs are Everywhere and Why You Should Write B Stories


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Why A Podcast About Writing and Life and Dogs?

Life doesn’t go the way we want it to a lot of the time. Your kid gets a speeding ticket. You can lose your job, your mom, your friend. Life is improvisation and yeah – the whole seize the day thing is a cliché because it’s important.


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