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Thanks for sharing your stories. Just like you have mishearings between Japanese people, we have them between native speakers of English, too. This is especially common in songs.

A recently released song by the Welsh group Stereophonics is called “Graffiti on the train,” but it’s really difficult to hear what the singer is saying unless you know the title. A radio show I listen to on the BBC had a long discussion about this a couple of weeks ago, and listeners were calling in to say what they had thought the singer was singing.

An interesting thing about listening is that our brains try to make sense of what we are hearing by referring to our database of knowledge about the language. Of course, this doesn’t work if the word turns out to be one that we didn’t know in the first place.

I am a big fan of the American country singer Carrie Underwood, and I particularly like the song “The night before life goes on.” No matter how many times I listened to it, though, I couldn’t figure out what she was saying in one line of the chorus. To me, it sounded like “Tomorrow she’ll be rolling down nights in Baton Rouge,” but that doesn’t make any sense.

When I checked, I found out that the lyric is “Tomorrow she’ll be rolling down I-10 Baton Rouge.” Obviously, “I-10” is the name of a road, but I had never heard of it, so I couldn’t make any sense of the lyric.

Anyway, here is some feedback on your comments.

And he fed the tea to my middle son and youngest son
And he gave the tea to my middle son and my youngest son.

their little quarrel quickly seemed to turn into a really big fight.
their little quarrel seemed as though it was going to turn into a really big fight.

Well,what do you think did actually each speaker intend to say?
What do you think each speaker actually intended to say?

but I’m happy to report that things are finally better.
Nice sentence.

Now he is enjoying himself like other university students.
If he’s like my students, that means he is not doing any studying at all!

Just two of us.
Just the two of us.

You seem to have had a great time in there!
You seem to have had a great time ther!

That’s all for today. Have a great weekend, and let me know if you have any questions.

18 Comments

  1. Biwa on Friday May 31st, 2013 at 02:04 PM

    Hi David,

    Thank you always for the feedback. I couldn’t get “grafitti” even after reading your story. It sounds like “God, feeding on the train!” to me. By the way, what does “LSU” stand for? “I-10 Baton Rouge, LSU”. Is it a place in Louisiana?

    Hi amo,

    Welcome back! I need a vacation, too. (lol!)



  2. David on Friday May 31st, 2013 at 02:23 PM

    Hi Biwa,

    I’m not sure, but maybe Louisiana State University?



  3. Biwa on Friday May 31st, 2013 at 02:46 PM

    Hi David,

    Thanks, yes, なるほど~♪
    That’s why she’s saying “18 years in her rearview.”



  4. YU on Friday May 31st, 2013 at 04:31 PM

    Hi David,

    Thank you always for your feedback!

    Hi Tomo and David,

    >Now he is enjoying himself like other university students.
    >If he’s like my students, that means he is not doing any studying at all!

    I think Japanese university students become lazy (I’m sure Tomo’s son will start studying soon, though!) because they had to try hard with their exam studies. They might feel that passing the exams is their goals. So did I. It’s a pity that their parents have to spend a lot of money for their children to enjoy themselves for four years or more!

    If there was no juken system in Japan, they might study harder and more Japanese universities might be ranked in world best university rankings.
    Considering this, juken system is really nonsense!

    Have a nice weekend all!



  5. Mika on Friday May 31st, 2013 at 04:39 PM

    Hi David,

    Thank you for the nice feedback.

    Have a nice weekend.



  6. Anne on Friday May 31st, 2013 at 05:09 PM

    Hi David,

    Thank you for your feedback as always.

    Have a lovely weekend, everyone!



  7. Fumie on Friday May 31st, 2013 at 11:21 PM

    Hi David,

    Thank you for your feedback.
    I heard Carrie Underwood’s song for the first time. I like her voice and she is beautiful.

    Hi David and YU,

    >I think Japanese university students become lazy (I’m sure Tomo’s son will start studying soon, though!) because they had to try hard with their exam studies. They might feel that passing the exams is their goals. So did I. It’s a pity that their parents have to spend a lot of money for their children to enjoy themselves for four years or more!
    I think the situation is different now. When I was a college student, most students went to university with their parents’ money and didn’t study much. Now, because of economic downturn, about half students have student loan and they have to pay them back when they start working.

    Hi amo,

    I’m glad to hear that you had a wonderful time in US.

    Have a lovely weekend, everyone!



  8. YU on Saturday June 1st, 2013 at 06:44 AM

    Hi Fumie,

    Thank you for your information, but I’m afraid the problem is not who pays their school fee, but it is whether they study hard or not in university.
    According to David and Tomo’s story, it doesn’t seem to have really changed since when I was in university as far as this point concerned.



  9. Tomo on Saturday June 1st, 2013 at 06:42 PM

    Hi amo,

    It sounds like you had a great time with your sister. Good for you!

    Hi David,

    Thank you for your feedback. I haven’t written much in English for a long time, so I was worried that I was losing my English. To keep it, I try to listen to audio books on the way to work.

    Hi YU,

    Yes, the juken system in Japan is nonsense. It’s more difficult to get in than getting out, and school fees are very expensive. Passing the entrance exam is just another start, but I can’t blame students for feeling like it is their goal. As you know, they are tired of their examination wars.

    >(I’m sure Tomo’s son will start studying soon, though!)

    Ha ha, I really hope so!

    Hope you are all having a nice weekend,

    Tomo



  10. Fumie on Saturday June 1st, 2013 at 10:32 PM

    Hi YU,

    Yes. As you said, most students don’t study much.
    Of course, it depends on each students. As for my son, we decided that he pay 20,000yen each month for college fee. He has to pay the amount from his earning by part time job. We don’t ask him to have student loan but it’s quite a burden for us so we thought he sould share the burden. Since he pays part of college fee, he said he wouldn’t take any day off from school. So I asked him what would you do if you had an influenza? He said I would probably go to school. He thought the money he earned himself is so precious and he doesn’t waste it. But that doesn’t mean he study hard!



  11. YU on Sunday June 2nd, 2013 at 01:24 AM

    Hi Fumie,

    I’m not really sure if I got you correctly, but anyway, isn’t it nice that your son learned to become thankful for money and his parents through paying a part of his school fee?

    As Tomo and you say, I also think that school fees are very expensive in Japan, but given the fact that there is a big difference between high school graduates and university graduates in their life time wages and promotion speed(昇進スピード), I don’t really think it is too expensive. (現状では卒業後普通に働いてけばすぐに元は取れると思う)Of course, I don’t think humans’ abilities are always depending on their academic backgrounds, though.



  12. Fumie on Sunday June 2nd, 2013 at 06:19 AM

    Hi YU,

    Thanks for the comment. I think we are on the common ground.^^
    >Of course, I don’t think humans’ abilities are always depending on their academic backgrounds, though.
    I agree with you. Some people who didn’t do well in school, would succeed after they start to work.
    Have a nice day!



  13. Biwa on Sunday June 2nd, 2013 at 06:44 AM

    Hi everyone,

    My husband came back from his business trip on Friday, and he told us a funny mishearing (probably a “mispronouncing”!)story.
    His co-worker ordered a vanilla ice cream for dessert, but he got something completely different. Can you guess what he got?



  14. YU on Sunday June 2nd, 2013 at 07:57 AM

    Hi Biwa,

    So you mean, he went on an overseas business trip, didn’t he?

    Maybe he got “banana ice cream”?
    He didn’t pronouce “v”, but he did “b”?



  15. Anne on Sunday June 2nd, 2013 at 08:26 AM

    Hi Biwa and YU,

    Yu, good guess!



  16. Biwa on Sunday June 2nd, 2013 at 07:56 PM

    Hi YU and Anne,

    Bingo! How did you know that? I couldn’t guess it!
    As you said, my husband has a lot of overseas business trips. Last week, he went to Turkey and Italy, and he’s going to Thailand from tomorrow. I really hope he doesn’t get too tired. Well, I’ll let you know if he has another mishearing story. lol!



  17. amo on Sunday June 2nd, 2013 at 08:56 PM

    Hi David,

    Thanks for your feedback.
    >Just the two of us.
    I should know that you need “the” before “two” because I learned the phrase from a song called “Just the two of us.”

    Hi everyone,

    Thanks for your words. Since I had a great time there, I was sorry to come back:(

    Hi YU,
    >I wish I had sisters, too!
    You know what? I got one year older during my stay, and my sister baked a birthday cake for me. When I came back, my other sister had baked a cake for me too. lucky me 😉

    Hi Biwa,
    Turkey and Italy? Even though it’s a business trip, I envy him for his situation. Speaking of “mispronouncing,” I am not good at pronouncing, either. My three years niece made me pronounce ” battery” a couple of times(lol)

    Bye for now,
    amo



  18. Biwa on Monday June 3rd, 2013 at 09:04 AM

    Hi amo,

    >My three years niece made me pronounce ” battery” a couple of times(lol)

    Yes, the Japanese pronunciation for those words make things even complicated. I often notice that “receipt” is quite difficult in the same way.