Recently I mentioned that during service on the jury in a Washington D.C. criminal trial, I had been alarmed to hear a police officer nonchalantly talk about catching a fleeing suspect from behind and then whacking him with an “ass baton.”
When the trial was over, the judge explained what had really been going on.*
This is the category of language mix-ups known as Mondegreens. A reader adds:
I once sat through an honors ceremony in college in which people kept referring to Airhead High School. I was very upset; did any school deserve such a derogatory term?
After a while, I saw a program, and came to understand that it was Arrowhead High School. That's what a Wisconsin accent can do to the language.
* Explanation of the “ass baton”: It’s actually an “ASP baton,” as explained in the earlier post. But no one says it the way it’s spelled. As one friend pointed out: “The P is silent. Like the pee in pneumonia. Or in swimming pool.”
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