Childish reanalyses

From Heidi Harley on Facebook yesterday, a dialogue in her household:

[Heidi, about a Terry Pratchett book]: “this story is set on a strange magical planet called Discworld”

Jasper [7,2]: “so the whole place has no squirrels, because it’s been de-squirreled?”

To which I wrote:

Every so often I complain about the reanalyses shown by the kids in Rick Detorie’s comic strip One Big Happy, as being strained and implausible. Then I see things like this.

One example from a great many, in my 10/23/19 posting “Iscariot”:

In the 9/26 One Big Happy, Ruthie and Joe cope eggcornishly with the biblical name Iscariot (as in Judas Iscariot), attempting (as they so often do, quite reasonably) to make some sense of an unfamiliar and opaque name

Ruthie: “Judas-Is-Scariest”. Joe: “Judas’s Carry-Out”. They both extract an is /ɪz/ from the /ɪs/ of Iscariot, and then do what they can with the /(s)kæriǝt/ that remains.

Getting back to Jasper. At age 7, Jasper is perfectly capable of messing with adult’s minds by deliberately playing with an absurd reanalysis — squirrels? how did squirrels get into it? — so we have to trust his mother’s judgment that his reanalysis was done in earnest, not in mischief. (In general, kids of this age are inclined to this sort of mischief, but they’re not very good at disguising their secret pleasure — that fleeting smirk — at having done something naughty. Parents of such children are keen critics of these performances.)

Back in One Big Happy, Ruthie sometimes earnestly comes up with inventive reanalysis. But sometimes she’s just messing with her brother’s mind. From my 11/3/19 posting “Ruthie plays with Joe”:

A recent — 10/7 — One Big Happy has Ruthie willfully misunderstanding a usage, something she does every so often, sometimes as a joke, usually to annoy her brother Joe.

…Joe asks about /plen/ plane vs. plain, and Ruthie mischievously shifts to a pun on /pléɪn/ playin’.

An inventory of OBH examples follows in that posting.

One Response to “Childish reanalyses”

  1. Bob Richmond Says:

    Some scholarly interpretations of the tale of Judas Iscariot seem quite as far-fetched as Ruthie’s. See the Wikipedia article about him.

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