Eggcorn to portmanteau

From Benita Bendon Campbell, a link to a recent One Big Happy strip, in which a child’s eggcorn becomes a portmanteau:

Ruthie has eggcornishly reanalyzed periodical on the basis of her knowing the word pterodactyl. Corrected, she then hopes to treat her word periodactyl as a portmanteau of periodical and pterodactyl.

Notes on One Big Happy, from the Wikipedia entry (explaining the linguistic interest of the strip):

One Big Happy is a daily comic strip written and illustrated by Rick Detorie, detailing the daily adventures of a six-year-old girl named Ruthie.

Ruthie often visits the local public library for story hour with the Library Lady, and annoys her with ceaseless questions and variations on her own tales.

Ruthie … frequently misunderstands and misuses words she hears. [Her 8-year-old brother] Joe has a better handle on words, but often has trouble spelling them.

The title One Big Happy has some linguistic interest of its own: it’s a truncation of the cliché one big happy family, and the result is a non-constituent title.

4 Responses to “Eggcorn to portmanteau”

  1. Greg Lee Says:

    I don’t understand how, when you truncate a constituent, you get something that is not a constituent. If you sever a leaf from a branch of a tree, you are still left with a branch of a tree. Why isn’t One Big Happy simply a NP, derived by removing the head (which is still understood)?

  2. Jean-Pierre Metereau Says:

    Ruthie (or one of her friends) once came up with the best eggcorn ever: “selfish steam” for self-esteem. Now I use it all the time, but no one notices.

  3. Two Big Happies « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] from Benita Bendon Campbell, two strips from the cartoon One Big Happy (information on the strip here), with little kids coping with English. Ruthie plays with alphabetical […]

  4. One Big Happy roundup | Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] language-related cartoons from Rick Detorie’s strip One Big Happy (information on the strip here): two with mishearings/eggcorns, one on consonant clusters, and one on […]

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