In the board game "Scotland Yard" one player attempts to thwart capture by the others through misleading them as to his true whereabouts. In the rules, this player is referred to as "Mr. X".

Saying this out loud sounds a lot like "Misdirects" - which is what the player is trying to do.

On learning this, I became curious if there was a single word for this particular form of word-play, where the phonetics of a group of words reminds us of a different word or phrase. It's not uncommon, after all.

Wikipedia lists it as:

Janusism: the use of phonetics to create a humorous word (e.g. BOREneo from Borneo))

But the link indicates there's no article for this work and indeed a search returns very limited results that are relevant, none of which appear to be from dictionaries. Which makes it entirely plausible the existing articles all derive from Wikipedia.

Is Janusism the word for this kind of word-play? If not, is there one, and what is it?

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    It looks like a classic pun to me—but perhaps our resident cunning linguists will be able to give a more definitive answer, when they get back from their trip up de Nile. – 1006a Mar 14 '17 at 17:30
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    It's the counterpart of misinterpretation resulting in mondegreens. The encouraging of such misinterpretation. Chinese whispers? – Edwin Ashworth Mar 14 '17 at 17:31
  • It's a bit like Chinese whispers - where "send reinforcements, we're going to advance" becomes "send three-and-fourpence, we're going to a dance" after being passed down a line of soldiers. – Yvonne Aburrow Mar 17 '17 at 10:05

I think the perfect word for this is oronym.

Per this glossary of linguistic terms: http://www.neonym.com/glossary-linguistic.html

A word or combination of words sounding like another word or combination of words, e.g., ICE CREAM vs. I SCREAM or WHITE SHOES vs. WHY CHOOSE

The "ice cream" / "I scream" example sounds a lot like your example comparing "Mr. X" and "misdirects."

Oronyms are specifically associated with word-gaming, which makes it especially fitting for your example. This Wikipedia page includes a pretty good list of oronyms.



I think it's a mondegreen - read this posting - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mondegreen

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