Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Oronyms

oronyms-mondegreens

While looking up something about homophones on the net I discovered an interesting word "oronym" - a neologism for homophones that span multiple words. Oronym isn't listed in any of the standard dictionaries but Wikipedia has a page on it that says:

This particular '-onym', oronym, was invented by Gyles Brandreth and first published in his book The Joy of Lex (1980). This term also featured in the BBC programme Never Mind the Full Stops, which also featured Brandreth as a guest.

Oronyms also find a mention in Steven Pinker's popular book The Language Instinct (p155):

We simply hallucinate word boundaries when we reach the edge of a stretch of sound that matches some entry in our mental dictionary. This becomes apparent when we listen to speech in a foreign language: it is impossible to tell where one word ends and the next begins. The seamlessness of speech is also apparent in "oronyms," strings of sound that can be carved into words in two different ways

Oronyms share a similar chain of consonant and vowel sounds, but they are typically composed of words cut at different points in the phonetic strings. Some examples:

Any [grey day / grade A] would be bad news for this professor.
I don't know how [mature / much your] people enjoy such a show.
The good [can decay many ways / candy came anyways].

A cryptic clue based on oronyms:

Guardian 25491 (Orlando): I holler out loud for something to eat in parlour (3,5) ICE CREAM
sounds like I SCREAM (holler out loud)

Another closely related word is "mondegreen", mostly used for misheard song lyrics. The word "mondegreen" was coined in 1954 by author Sylvia Wright. As a child, Wright heard the fourth line in The Bonny Earl O'Moray (a Scottish ballad) as "and Lady Mondegreen" when the actual line is "And laid him on the green". Fun With Words gives more examples of mondegreens and Man-Bol has a user-generated collection of Hindi mondegreens.

Solve These

A few oronym-based clues for you to solve.

Sunday Times 4482: Naked swimmer reportedly a cure for depression?  (3,4) N__ ___L

Times 24557: Having excellent vision, join team for audition (4-4) L___ ___D

Times 25185: Lack inspiration as cartoonist, say, for too long (5-3) D____-__T

Related Posts:

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5 comments

raju umamaheswar said...

Always interested in such word plays; and a new word learnt: ORONYM Answers:NEW DEAL
LYNX-EYED (very clever homonym)

DRAWN OUT
keep 'em coming !!

Krishnan said...

Second one is lynx eyed (link side)

Deepak Gopinath said...

Have you heard of this word 'Paraprosdokians'. It is not in Chambers, but i found it in Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paraprosdokian

I had posted a few of them in my blog on Sat 21 Jul in the comments section

Shuchi said...

'paraprosdokian' - that's a new word for me Colonel, thanks for sharing it. The examples on Wikipedia are very amusing.

Looking up your 21 Jul post now...

Shuchi said...

@raju: You got all this time. Congrats.

@Krishnan: Correct!

The full set:

Sunday Times 4482: Naked swimmer reportedly a cure for depression? (3,4) NEW DEAL
sounds like 'NUDE EEL' (naked swimmer)

Times 24557: Having excellent vision, join team for audition (4-4) LYNX-EYED
sounds like 'LINK SIDE' (join team)

Times 25185: Lack inspiration as cartoonist, say, for too long (5-3) DRAWN-OUT
sounds like 'DRAW NOWT' (lack inspiration as cartoonist)