Lexicology is the part of linguistics which studies words. If this sounds a bit intellectual or academic, I must admit that I did not formulate the sentence myself. I found it on Wikipedia. One can find anything on Wikipedia…
Do you remember homophones and homonyms? A homophone is a word that is pronounced the same as another word but differs in meaning and spelling. What a bore! What a boar! He’s a great rapper, or wrapper? The SWAT team caught the SWOT team.
Homonyms (as you know) are words that are spelled the same and sound the same, but have different meanings. Under the heading “Fun with Homonyms” I found a few puns on the web. To write with a broken pencil is pointless. If you don’t pay your exorcist you can get repossessed. A boiled egg in the morning is hard to beat. And then my favourite: The thief who stole a calendar got twelve months.
Related to the homophone is the mondegreen. (Don’t worry, I also had to look it up. Thanks again, Wikipedia.) A mondegreen is a misheard lyric. The term comes from an old song that contains the words “They slew the Earl of Moray and laid him on the green”. It was commonly misheard as “They slew the Earl of Moray and Lady Mondegreen”.
More examples: Did Irene Cara (in Flashdance) really sing “Take your pants down and make it happen”? What about CCR, when they recorded Bad Moon Rising. “There’s a bathroom on the right”. (Figure it out.) Even Simon and Garfunkel can be misheard. “Are you going to starve an old friend?”
Spoonerisms (named after the Reverend William Spooner, who was famous for doing this) are words or phrases in which letters or syllables get swapped. This often happens accidentally in slips of the tongue (or “tips of the slung” as Spoonerisms are often affectionately called).
I still wanted to discuss the malapropism and the portmanteau, but we’re out of time. That’s all for today, class! Remember your homework. See you next week.