Shamu the mysterious whale

BBC News: Police top misheard lyrics chart.

Rock band The Police have written some of the most commonly misheard pop lyrics of all time, a poll suggests. Two of the band’s songs feature in a top 10 of misunderstood tracks. A line from The Police’s Message In A Bottle – "a year has passed since I wrote my note" – is often heard as "a year has passed since I broke my nose". A biblical reference in U2’s Mysterious Ways becomes "Shamu the mysterious whale". Some 2,000 people were polled by hearing aid providers Amplifon.

The poll was conducted by a hearing aid company, Amplifon. These mishearings are called Mondegreens, the Wikipedia definition is "mishearing or misinterpretation of a phrase, typically a standardized phrase such as a line in a poem or a lyric in a song". The word was coined by the America writer Sylvia Wright, who misheard the poem "The Bonnie Earl O’ Murray" like this:

Ye Highlands and ye Lowlands,

Oh, where hae ye been?

They hae slain the Earl Amurray, [sic]

And Lady Mondegreen.

The fourth line is actually "And laid him on the green". There’s also an archive of misheard song lyrics, Kiss This Guy, don’t go there unless you can giggle out loud.