… on language matters, and none of them is a Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. A Zits, on disagreement; a Mother Goose and Grimm, with an uncomplicated ambiguity; and a One Big Happy with Ruthie searching for the right word:
Archive for the ‘Ambiguity’ Category
A recently reprinted Calvin and Hobbes:
The strip exploits the ambiguity of toast as a noun (delightfully, to my mind). But, astonishingly, the two nouns (though clearly quite distinct in modern English, as are the corresponding verbs) have a common historical source. The tale is one of those stories that might make you believe in any damn fanciful etymology.
A recent One Big Happy, with Ruthie alarmed by her understanding of legal size (paper); and a David Borchart cartoon from the latest (July 28th) New Yorker that turns on the multiple meanings of the verb see:
(#1) (#2) (more…)
The Bizarro of 3/20/14, which I seem to have missed when it came up in March, but caught yesterday reproduced in the July issue of Funny Times:
An ambiguity — Miss France as a (NP) title in a beauty pageant vs. Miss France as a VP remnant of a declarative S, conveying ‘I miss France’. This gross difference in syntax and semantics corresponds to a pragmatic difference, whether the expression is viewed as printed on a sash (as in beauty pageants) or as the equivalent of a t-shirt slogan — very different sociocultural contexts.
A One Big Happy from yesterday (May 25), on conversational organization; and then three from this morning’s (June 1st) crop: a Bizarro with an ambiguity introduced by truncation; yet another meta-Zippy, this time on reports of Zippy’s death; and a Rhymes With Orange with a pun from the Black Lagoon.
For (U.S.) Memorial Day — today — three diverse cartoons, none of them about war or memorializing troops: A PHD Comics on ambiguity; a Doonesbury on vegetable (parallel to animal) language; and a Mother Goose and Grimm uniting two Shermans (so there’s a bit about war in there — the (U.S.) Civil War).
Three recent cartoons on divergent subjects: a Bizarro with language play turning on ambiguity; a Scenes From a Multiverse with metacommentary by the characters; and another classic Watergate Doonesbury, from 1974, with the denominal verb to stonewall.
The cartoon below came to me from several sources on the net (I don’t know its ultimate source):
Crucial background: murder is a “term of venery”, a collective noun used with very specific referents, in this case crows. (Ordinary collectives, like group, crowd, and in fact collection, can refer to referents of many different kinds.)
A murder of crows has come up in passing several times, as a memorable example of a term of venery; there is a more extensive discussion of the expression in this posting, on a Pearls Before Swine cartoon that turns on the ambiguity of the expression.
The cartoon above turns on a different question: how many crows does it take to make a murder of them?