Sunday, August 09, 2009

The Eye and the Mouth at the Tramstop

Bonus. Two posts in one.

I heard on the radio the other day a discussion about words that you read and know the meaning of, but don't connect them to the word you hear. Many examples were given and most were quite understandable. I found myself not thinking, you idiot.

Mine is hyperbole. Do I have to spell it out? Bit hard. Ok, I saw hyper bowl. Absolutely nothing like the word. I was in my twenties before the dawning of the age of Aquarius.....sorry slipped there, before I realised my hyper bowl was hyperbole.

And to the tram stop. I was a kid, coming home from the show in EJ Holden. It was a dark and wet night and I could not understand how my father could see where he was going. I knew it would be about half an hour before we saw the Dandy ham and bacon pig lifting his top hat.

Staring out into the dark, I kept seeing signs warpped around metal poles that said, 'Cars Stop Here'. What cars? Father was ignoring the signs and not stopping, so they must be for something else. Taxis, I reckoned. There must be some system in Melbourne for catching taxis. They only stop for you where there is the sign 'Cars Stop Here'. I was satisfied with my explanation and thought no more about it.

They were of course, tram stops. Stops for tram cars. Why didn't I ask at the time. Dad would have known. He used to catch trams as a kid. He and his closest aged brother used to use a peashooter at the conductor.

Got any similar childhood misunderstanding? Got a word that you never connected the written with the spoken until well after you should have known better?


  1. Hyper-bowl(hyperbole) was one of mine too, and similarly "Penelope" with "-lope" pronounced as a single syllable to rhyme with "dope".
    For years I misread the street sign that warns drivers to watch out for other traffic joining the highway, as "meringue traffic" -- didn't make any sense, but sounded good to me!

  2. OMG Altissima. Penelope was another of mine. Meringue traffic is perhaps quite appropriate.

  3. I still, to this day, get stuck on hyperbole. Of course, considering I'm quite the muddle-headed unit I get caught on plenty of words. 'Doubt' was one that troubled me as a kid, I always read it as 'doubt it'. There's plenty of others too, but it's just too early to think of them.

  4. If pressed I guess I could come up with more Mutant. Hyperbole seems common, it would seem.

  5. That is so weird. I heard hyperbole for the first time a few days ago. It was pronounced totally different from what I expected.

    It took me a second to connect the word I heard to the word I've seen so many times.

    The idea that's nagging at me though is the hyperbole you heard might sound totally different from the one I heard.

  6. I'll have a crack Dina.
    hy PERB oleigh
    Sound right?

  7. Anonymous10:11 pm

    Do you remember an office building near St Kilda junction that for years had a 'to let' sign on the roof? Well, when I was a kid, I thought it said 'toilet'. I thought the 'i' had fallen off or was hidden from view! Vik.

  8. The Cadbury Schweppes building Vik? A mighty big toilet.

  9. There used to be a Hoyts Palatial Cinema near where I lived as a child which I always thought was pronounced 'Pah-lat-ee-al'. I did not connect it as palatial (ie; like a palace) until years later.

  10. I think I might have done the same Victor, had I seen the word. There does seem to be certain words that younguns struggle with. There must be some illogicality about them.