Thursday, 3 June 2010

Grueways and cads

An eggcorn sighting: check out the number of Google hits for the word "grueways", all in the context of a song from The Sound of Music that frequently appears on lyrics websites as:
You are 16 going on 17
Fellows will fall in line
Eager young lads
And grueways and cads
Will offer you food and wine
In brief, this is a mistaken transcription of "rou├ęs" (listen at 0:47 in the above video). What makes it an eggcorn, and interesting, is that it's not merely an error, but transforms an unknown word into something semantically meaningful for the context: in this case, presumably the idea that it refers to some kind of gruesome creepy person or monster. You certainly wouldn't want to run into a "grueway" on a dark night.

This illustrates one of the downsides of the ease of propagation of Internet material: like quotation websites, music lyric websites copy promiscuously and indiscriminately from each other, and wrong lyrics spread very rapidly without much mechanism for error correction.
- Ray


  1. Oh, my, egg corns (eggcorns?), mondegrens and all. May you receive your just desserts, chocolate I am sure (and drown in the Wiktionary).

  2. I just finished posting a question about that lyric on Yahoo Answers and someone pointed me to this entry!

    What suprises me most of all is how many different ways is been transcribed. Rogues, Grueways, breways are what I found when I searched the lyrics.

  3. someone pointed me to this entry

    Full circle then: seeing it on Y!A was what inspired me to investigate it (I find the questions there often lead in very interesting directions).

  4. From the time I was a little girl I always wondered what that word was. Now that the song appears in a commercial and technology makes the search easy, I decided to look it up. Sure enough, grueways and rogues led me to you. Thanks for clearing this up!