I was recently at a dinner where some of the folks spoke German, so I was reminded of this amusing thing that my mom told me long ago. They got a kick out of it. It has less punch when it needs so much explaining, but I'll see if I can try.
My mom was an exchange student living in Germany in College. She once read this article in a magazine that was talking about how to decorate your apartment or house. Then it mentioned some good places to shop and the kinds of things you could find at the various stores. So one line had a list of stuff and the end of the line a word had to be hyphenated. The magazine hyphenated the word in the wrong spot.
So for an entire day, my mom went around trying to figure what the heck a "Blumento" horse was. She asked several other German people, and no one could answer her question, and most of the time she got reactions as if to say "Crazy American!"
Anyway, she finally showed the article to someone, and here's what had happened: As Printed:
Pferde means horses in German. What they meant:
Blumen means flowers. Topf means "top." Erde means earth. So literally, Blumentopferde means topsoil or potting soil.
So needless to say, I will some day get a chance to christen my own baby horse as "Blumento," and he just sounds like he would have to be a big drafty type. But I'm pretty sure very few people in the world would have any clue as to the origin of his name.
And another less equine-oriented bad hyphenation. One time I read a TV Magazine article about Faye Dunaway and her performance in a movie called "Barf-
(The movie was "Barfly," as in "Bar-fly.")