3V0839.01 Assimilation example: dragon/’snake’ (5/10/80)
Miriam brought home from the library a recording of “The Hobbit.”
Pictured on the cover is the dragon, ‘Smaug’ (as Tolkein notes, a “low
gothic joke.,” the past participle of “smugen” to extrude from or
through a hole). No one, I believe, has even mentioned dragons to
Peggy and no one, I am certain, showed her the picture before and
explained it. “What’s this, Peggy?” I asked as I produced the picture.
She decided, “Snake,” definitely and was not corrected.
This is not an important example (but it is a clear one) of interpreting
what you haven’t met before as a variant of what you have.