Long List of Starbucks Lovers?
I was bored, so I decided to analyze why in Taylor Swift‘s Blank Space we mishear “long list of ex-lovers” as “long list of Starbucks lovers” even though with lyrics in front of us it seems ridiculous.
Because the “st” sound at the end of “list” is a vocal stop, it carried into the next word, “of”. This is actually pretty common in English; when you say “stop it”, the actual syllables you are saying are “sto-pit”. In this case, we have “li-stof”.
The “f” in “of” is pronounced like a “v”, and this sound also carries into the next word “ex-“, so we get “li-sto-vex”. Take of the “li” sound for a bit and repeat the “sto-vex” a bunch of time and you will realize how easily you can mishear it.
However, this would mean that even without lyrics you should be hearing “long li-sto-vex-lovers”, which would (mis-)sound like “long li Starbucks lovers”, which doesn’t exactly sound like “long list of Starbucks lovers.”
Thing is, when you hear a song, you process lyrics in parts. On first listen, you might have (mis-)heard the “Starbucks”, then on another listen picked up “long list of”. Then on subsequent listens your brain is primed to hear “long list of Starbucks lovers” and you think, with the blaring music, that it was just some sort of tech-y effect.
Hope you found this interesting.