MONDEGREEN (mŏn‘də-grēn): A series of words that result from the mishearing or misinterpretation of a statement or song lyric. e.g.: Find a place, make dis Bajan move for Find a place, make a stage and move (Fay-Ann Lyons-Alvarez’ M.A.S. or Make A Stage).
A stringband of soca mondegreens emerged out of a pow-wow at the Caribbean Beat offices last Friday. I won’t call any names, but two of our staff were of the belief that the Roy Cape All Stars & Blaxx tune, Dutty, featured the following lyrics:
Don’t fraid rain
Like you fraid de weather
The rest of us had to put them out of their misery and point out that, following with the impetus of the song about duttiness (dirtiness) and confrontational jamette mas (from the French diametre, or the line of respectability below which the jamettes existed) being the origin and lifeblood of Trinidad Carnival (and by extension West Indian-style Carnivals), the lyrics were indeed:
Doh fraid we
Like you fraid we bruddah/breddah
We had to explain that breddah was like “brother” and akin to other utterances like “breds”, perhaps derived from “brethren”, as “sis” might be derived from “sistren” and be a stand in for “sister”.
If you’d like to weigh in, you can listen to Dutty online for free on the Toronto-Lime website. But in the end, we were able to extract a Standard English translation from one of our assistant editors, which summarised the lyrics thus:
Don’t be afraid of us
For, it is as if you are afraid of us, brother!
What are your favourite soca, reggae, zouk and other Caribbean mondegreens? Caribbean Beat wants to know (and laugh)!