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I've Got Two Chickens to Paralyze: A celebration of mondegreens, malapropisms, and more

An illustration that outlines two human forms in which one is misinterpreting what they hear from the other. The form on the left has a line coming out of their mouth that turns into a jumble of string in the middle between the bodies, and the form on the right has a line from that jumble going into their ear.
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This hour we look at mis-speaks, mis-hearings and mis-understandings, like malapropisms, mondegreens, eggcorns, and spoonerisms. We'll share our favorite examples and learn about what they can tell us about the English language, and how our brains process language. And we'll celebrate the joy of playing with language.


  • Emily Brewster: Senior Editor and lexicographer at Merriam-Webster, and host of the“Word Matters” podcast  
  • Melissa Baese-Berk: Professor of language teaching studies and linguistics at the University of Oregon, where she is also director of the Speech Perception and Production Lab 
  • Ben Zimmer: Linguist, lexicographer, and the“Word on the Street” columnistfor The Wall Street Journal

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Colin McEnroe, Jonathan McNicol, and Cat Pastor contributed to this show.

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Lily is the senior producer for The Colin McEnroe Show. She first worked at Connecticut Public as an intern in 2014. She has previously worked for WBUR, KUNC and as a producer for the New England News Collaborative's weekly show Next. Lily can be reached at ltyson@ctpublic.org.