Boynton: hippos and an occasional pig

Cue from Elizabeth Daingerfield Zwicky yesterday, to a posting by Sandra Boynton on Facebook on the 7th:


Day 5,347 of my quixotic project to entirely redraw my seven earliest board books. I’m doing this so that the line and colors will print better, and the layout is better balanced. I hope. (It’s really very fun, in a hyperfocused sort of way.)

EDZ recommended reading the comments, “for adorable linguistic content”. Indeed: on naming conventions and on the cot/caught merger, among other things.

And then a Boynton for Pi Day, coming up this week (on the 14th). With a celebratory pig for the occasion.

The hippo books.

Hippo 1: But Not the Hippopotamus (1982):


A hog and a frog
cavort in the bog.
But not the hippopotamus.
A cat and two rats
are trying on hats.
But not the hippopotamus.

[from the publisher:] a shy hippo watches as other animals engage in social activities. Finally, the other animals invite the hippo along and, after dithering a moment, she leaps into the fun … with hilarious results.

Hippo 2: Hippos Go Berserk! (1996), a counting story:


Hippo 3: Happy Hippo, Angry Duck: A Book of Moods (2011)


Two readers’ comments on Hippo 1. First:

My 2 year old got a toy hippopotamus from the zoo. She named it “Not”. Her name is Not the Hippopotamus!

Reinterpreting not the hippopotamus as a proper name: Not the Hippopotamus (like Bullwinkle the Moose).

Then, a more complex story:

We live in East Tennessee.
“Papi” was a super proud one and loved reading books to his newest grandson, our first child.
He picked this one up, one of our son’s favorites at bedtime, and had a go at it.
He rhymes along for a few lines, then we all heard “a hawg inna frawg kuhvort in a bahg…”
then a pause…
He repeats it, again in his thick southern accent.
Another pause…
He then looks at us and says “that’s supposed to rhyme, isn’t it?”
We all bust out laughing and tell him “yes! Yes, that “should” rhyme!”

For Papi, that was [hɔg] … [frɔg] … [bag]. Not a perfect rhyme, only a half-rhyme.

What’s at issue here is the special case of the cot/caught merger (in North American English) in words spelled with OG. There are speakers for whom all these words have [ag], and there are speakers for whom all these words have [ɔg], and then there are lots of speakers with some of one and some of the other, depending on the word. I think it’s true that if you have any [ɔg] at all, you have it in DOG (this is my variety: only in DOG, but [ag] in HOG, FROG, FOG, FLOG, JOG, LOG, NOGGIN, SOGGY, TOGS, TOGGLE, WOG, etc.); and that if you have any [ag] at all, you have it in the relatively infrequent words BOG and COG (this seems to have been Papi’s variety).

(There’s now a Page on this blog with links to postings on the cot/caught merger.)

Pigs for pi. Another of Boynton’s charming drawings for holidays (of all sorts):


Hoping for pie, provided with pi.

Other pi cartoons on this blog:

from 3/8/14 “Another silly pun”

from 3/14/14 “Three for Pi Day”

from 3/4/17 “Bizarro pi(e)”

from 3/14/18 “Pi Day 2018”

from 3/15/18 “Pi Day + 1”


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