Comfits

January 29, 2015

In today’s One Big Happy, Ruthie once again understands a rare and unusual expression (the word comfit) in terms more familiar to her:

  (#1)

I very much doubt that I knew the word comfit when I was 6.

Read the rest of this entry »

A syntactic blend

January 28, 2015

In gathering material for my posting on Zippy the Pinhead’s road trip to Kansas, I came across this sentence in the Wikipedia entry on Strataca, aka the Kansas Underground Salt Museum.:

There are 14 other salt mines in the United States, but none of which are accessible to tourists.

The intended meaning is clear, but the syntax is definitely off. The sentence looks like a blend of two different, though very similar, formulations of the idea:

(a) There are 14 other salt mines in the United States, none of which are accessible to tourists. [nonrestrictive relative clause]

(b) There are 14 other salt mines in the United States, but none of them are accessible to tourists. [conjoined independent clause with but]

Both are syntactically unproblematic (disregarding the disputed usage choice between none … are and none … is, which is identical for (a) and (b)). But it appears that the writer(s) began option (b), with the conjunction but, and then continued with the relative-clause syntax of option (a). A classic syntactic blend, it seems to me.

Read the rest of this entry »

Zippy’s in Kansas anymore

January 28, 2015

In today’s Zippy, our Pinhead takes a road trip to Kansas:

(#1)

Hutchinson, Goodland, Cawker City, Lawrence, Wichita.

Read the rest of this entry »

Sol LeWitt

January 27, 2015

(About art, not language.)

Caught recently, a gallery ad with a Sol LeWitt painting. On the artist, from Wikipedia:

Solomon “Sol” LeWitt (September 9, 1928 – April 8, 2007) was an American artist linked to various movements, including Conceptual art and Minimalism.

LeWitt came to fame in the late 1960s with his wall drawings and “structures” (a term he preferred instead of “sculptures”) but was prolific in a wide range of media including drawing, printmaking, photography, and painting. He has been the subject of hundreds of solo exhibitions in museums and galleries around the world since 1965.

Three examples follow:

Read the rest of this entry »

Snidely Whiplash

January 27, 2015

As I post here from time to time, I often wake up with a name stuck in my head, usually for no reason I can discern. Today it was Snidely Whiplash, a wonderful name for a villain. And villain he is.

Read the rest of this entry »

Academic freedom

January 26, 2015

In the January/February issue of Stanford magazine, “Watch Your Words, Professor: In 1900, Jane Stanford forced out a respected faculty member. Was he a martyr to academic freedom or a racist gadfly who deserved what he got?” by Brian Eule, beginning:

On a Tuesday afternoon in November 1900, Edward Alsworth Ross gathered several student reporters in his campus office. Ross, 33 years old and a Stanford economics professor of seven years, had joined the university just two years after its opening. He was a captivating sight, 6-foot-5 and nattily dressed in a suit that favored his athletic physique.

Ross was popular with students and esteemed in his field. David Starr Jordan, the university’s first president, had recruited him not once but twice. Plucked from Jordan’s former home at Cornell, Ross was emerging as a scholarly star. Now, his time at Stanford was coming to an abrupt end.

Ross held a lengthy written statement he had prepared for the San Francisco newspapers. He handed it to the students.

“Well, boys,” he said, “I’m fired.”

Read the rest of this entry »

The general store

January 26, 2015

From the January 26th New Yorker, a cartoon by Liana Finck:

(#1)

A store that deals with things from highly general categories: it sells items, for which it takes money.

Read the rest of this entry »

Captain Rehab

January 26, 2015

Found in the latest Funny Times, a Speed Bump cartoon from September 30th:

A distant pun (rehab – Ahab) that works only if you recognize both pieces of background: the story of Melville’s Moby-Dick and the conventions of talk therapy.

LGBT at the Smithsonian

January 25, 2015

From the December/January issue of the Advocate (LGBT news), “The Smithsonian’s Queer Collection: Our nation’s history is more fully explored in the new acquisition of objects of LGBT significance” by Stephanie Fairyington:

Over the summer, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, in Washington, D.C., announced the expansion of its LGBT collection. “As cultural sensitivities and politics have changed,” curator Katherine Ott says, “now seemed like an opportune time to more aggressively, directly, and openly collect LGBT materials.”

[from Ott:] “Pick any topic in our nation’s past and there’s a gender and sexuality aspect to it, so these materials enable us to create a more accurate and balanced history of the United States.”

Shirt from the all-male, all-gay DC Cowboys Dance Company

Read the rest of this entry »

savarin

January 25, 2015

From Benita Bendon Campbell, this photo of a savarin she made recently:

From NOAD2 on savarin (which it has only lowercased):

a light ring-shaped cake made with yeast and soaked in liqueur-flavored syrup.

ORIGIN named after Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1755–1826), French gastronome.

The wider semantic domain is that of moistened cake. The history, social and linguistic, is complex, however.

Read the rest of this entry »


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 473 other followers