November 23, 2015

Choosing Specific Nouns and Verbs



If you pay close attention to your reading material, you'll see a clear pattern among the pros: Unlike amateur writers, they prefer specific nouns and verbs over vague ones. Here's how to put specific words to work in your writing.

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Mondegreens and Eggcorns
Posted by June on November 23, 2015


Here are two fun language terms to roll out at your next cocktail party.

A mondegreen is any misheard expression, lyric, catchphrase or slogan. The name itself is a mondegreen. For example, there's an old John Prine song called "That's the Way That the World Goes 'Round" with the lyric, "It's a half an inch of water and you think you're going to drown." As the Prine has repeated many times, a woman once asked him to play the happy enchilada song. When he asked her what she was talking about, she recited the lyric: "It's a happy enchilada and you think you're going to drown."

Related to the concept mondegreens are eggcorns, which are also misheard terms, including one derived from “acorn.”

The name mondegreen comes from a misheard lyric from the Scottish ballad “The Bonny Earl of Moray.” In the song are the words “laid him on the green,” which some people famously misheard as “laid him mondegreen.” The name eggcorn came into being exactly as you'd guess.


June Casagrande is a writer and journalist whose weekly grammar/humor column, “A Word, Please,” appears in community newspapers in California, Florida, and Texas. more

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