One Big Happy roundup

Four recent 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 ambiguity.

(Hat tip to Benita Bendon Campbell.)

In the first two, Ruthie copes with opaque product names:

That would be Oil of Olay

Olay is an American skin care line. It is one of Procter & Gamble’s multi-billion dollar brands

… Olay originated in South Africa as Oil of Olay. Graham Wulff (1916-2008), an ex-Unilever chemist from Durban, started it in 1949. The name “Oil of Olay” was chosen by Wulff as a spin on the word “lanolin”, a key ingredient.

… In 1999, it was decided to unify the brand under a global name. Thus, Oil of Ulan and Ulay became Olay on a worldwide basis, except in German-speaking regions and Italy, where it remained Oil of Olaz. In the Netherlands and Belgium, it was renamed just Olaz. (link)

And that would be Grey Poupon:

Grey Poupon is a brand of Dijon mustard which originated in Dijon, France but today is sold primarily in the United States. The U.S. rights to the brand were acquired by the Heublein Company, later passing on to Kraft Foods. Grey Poupon became popular there in the late 1970s and 1980s as American tastes broadened from conventional American yellow mustards.

Like other Dijon mustards, Grey Poupon contains a small amount of white wine. It is made with brown mustard seed grown in Canada and wine from upstate New York produced under the supervision of a rabbi to ensure the product is kosher. (link)

On to consonant clusters. When Ruthie learns a language fact, she’s on it like a limpet:

There’s a pronunciatiation vs. spelling issue in cornflakes; phonologically, the word has a first syllable with a two-consonant offset cluster (/rn/, at least in rhotic dialects) and a second syllable with a two-consonant onset cluster (/fl/), while the spelling has four consonant letters (RNFL) in a row. And again in strengths: phonologically, the offset has three consonants (/ŋɵs/, while the spelling has five consonant letters (NGTHS) in a row.

Ruthie and her brother Joe, at odds over odds ‘odd numbers’ vs. odds ‘chances’.


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