Archive for the ‘Abbreviation’ Category

Monkey puzzle tree

September 25, 2015

In my posting on the N + N compound monkey bread, referring to a sweet breadstuff whose relationship to monkeys is not at all obvious, I noted that some have suggested a connection to the monkey puzzle tree, since the bread is sometimes called monkey puzzle bread: perhaps the connection involves a perceived similarity between the bread and the fruit of the tree. That sent me looking for information about the tree, which I became acquainted with in England many years ago. Though I don’t see much resemblance between the bread and the fruit of the tree, the tree is fascinating in its own right, and its name presents another origins problem — what does the tree have to do with monkeys and puzzles? — but one whose (again, not at all obvious) answer seems to be known. In any case, worth posting about.


Amber 2

September 21, 2015

Following up on my posting on succinic acid (which led to some discussion of the substance amber), two amber items: a musical interlude, and material about senses of the noun amber.


Kraken! And GEICO!

August 23, 2015

This recent tv ad for GEICO entertained me enormously:

A description, from the site:

At a golf tournament, a golfer prepares to make a shot over the water. Just before he goes to swing, a kraken emerges from the water and grabs the golfer and his caddy, swinging them around with its tentacles. While all this is happening, the golf commentators continue quietly narrating the event. When you’re a golf commentator, you whisper — It’s what you do. If you want to save 15 percent or more on car insurance, you switch to GEICO.


Now, some notes: on the Kraken, and on GEICO and the”It’s What You Do” ads.


Coordinate initialisms

August 6, 2015

It started with an ADS-L posting by Benjamin Barrett about the initialism T&A, which (he learned) abbreviates tits and ass but can also denote (from a Wiktionary entry) “scantily-clad women, or entertainment featuring scantily clad women” (that is, a display of tits and ass).


[The T & A Team is a classic porn film from 1984, with the slogan “Using Their T & A to Make the World a Better Place!”. It’s a take-off on the tv series The A-Team (1983-87).]


Language cartoon Wednesday

August 5, 2015

That would be today, with three language-related cartoons in my inbox: a Rhymes With Orange, a Mother Goose and Grimm, and a Bizarro:





“a fun roof in Gent”

August 1, 2015

So went the message from my colleague Elizabeth Traugott on the 25th, to accompany this wonderful photo:

(This was before Elizabeth went on to Antwerp for the activities of the International Pragmatics Conference; posting here.)

Elizabeth has not yet identified the building for me, but what caught my eye, beyond the roof, was the spelling of the city’s name, GENT (rather than the spelling in English, GHENT). Things are linguistically complicated in Belgium.


Initialisms, raunchy and not

July 2, 2015

An image posted by actor/director Chris Pratt on his Facebook page:


The initialistic abbreviation BJ stands for Beijing here, but of course blowjob will come first to many people’s minds — even though then the t-shirt should go

I ♥︎

And there are more possibilities; it’s in the nature of abbreviations to be multiply ambiguoua.


Bad date

May 4, 2015

A penguin cartoon, passed on by Chris Waigl:

By Scott Cassidy, on The Stuff in the Margin.

The owl and the penguin went to see…


Jim Dultz

April 21, 2015

A cartoonist, with this cartoon in the May issue of Funny Times:


This works pretty well as a pun in print — Oedipus Rex / Oedipus Rx — with the mother theme and the prescription theme combined. Apparently there are people who treat the abbreviation Rx as an initialism /ar ɛks/, a noun meaning ‘prescription’ (“an Rx for Viagra”), and for them Oedipus Rx works as a (moderately distant) pun in pronunciation as well.

Now: more on this, a note on the cartoonist, and a couple more punning cartoons from him.


Briefly: initial-based crime dramas

April 11, 2015

Now appearing every so often on the USA Network (American cable), an entertaining commercial for the network, touting the “initial-based crime dramas” (like NCIS and CSI) viewable on it, and bursting out in a fountain of initialisms of all sorts (OMG etc.).

I haven’t been able to find a video of the commercial or a transcript of it, but I’m hoping that one or another of these will eventually be available to report on here.


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