Feeling a little under the weather -- nothing terribly serious, just a mild stomach bug that I hope will be gone by the end of today -- I've been amusing myself following various links from Lingua Franca, which led me first to The Eggcorn Database, a site 'devoted to collecting the kind of unusual English spellings that have come to be called eggcorns', and thence to Language Log, to which I owe the discovery of the wonderful concept of the Mondegreen.
What is she on about, I hear you say. Well, an eggcorn is a substitute spelling for a word that someone has heard but never seen written down. I first heard of them on the wonderful Adam and Joe's BBC 6 Music show -- you can hear an extract on eggcorns here. There seem to be a lot of people who think acorn is spelled eggcorn, and you can find many other misspellings on the Eggcorn Database.
As for the Mondegreen, you will already know of some examples of this though you may not have realised what they were called. The name originated as early as 1954 in an article by an American writer, Sylvia Wright. She described how, when she was a child, her mother used to read her a Scottish ballad, of which one verse went like this:
Or at least that was how she thought it went. Of course as she grew up she finally came to realise that this was not the case -- the fourth line was really 'And laid him on the green'.
I'm willing to bet that you or someone in your family has a similar story to tell. My aunt was one of the many many people who used to enjoy the English hymn about 'Gladly, the cross-eyed bear', and it's a great joy to know that Jimmy Hendrix sometimes used to suit the action to the words after the line ' 'Scuse me while I kiss this guy'.
Know any more?