Archive for the ‘Ambiguity’ Category

Initialisms, raunchy and not

July 2, 2015

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

(#1)

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 ♥︎
BJs

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

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The news for penises, Norwegian edition

June 27, 2015

Passed on by Chris Hansen on Facebook, this story of 6/23 from thelocal.no (“Norway’s news in English”), “Is this the worst summer job ever?”:

A nineteen-year-old in Norway has been hired by a sexual health charity to play a giant penis who surprises passers-by by spraying them with golden confetti.

“I thought it was hilarious. If I can do a good thing for others, just by being a dick, there is nothing better,” Philip van Eck, the man inside the penis costume, told Norway’s Tønsberg Blad newspaper.

It’s all about STDs.

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It just got bigger

June 23, 2015

From the Daily Jocks people, announcing a sale (the savings just got bigger) and also toying with the idea of penis enlargement. And then there’s a point about the semantics / pragmatics of just, which I’ll get at by adding three captions to this photo:

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Two linguistic comics

June 17, 2015

In my e-mail this morning, two linguistic comics: a One Big Happy and a Mother Goose and Grimm:

(#1)

(#2)

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The New Yorker on subsectivity

May 23, 2015

Michael Maslin in the latest (May 25th) New Yorker:

(#1)

(You need to recognize from the setting that the creature the cowboy is faced with is a so-called prairie dog — not any kind of dog, but instead a kind of ground squirrel.)

The echo of “I’m not that kind of girl” adds to the humor.

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Or what?

May 22, 2015

A Meg Biddle cartoon in the June 2015 Funny Times:

(#1)

Yes-no questions with the tag or what? are regularly used to emphatically assert the truth of the questioned proposition. So

Is this a great country, or what?

has the effect of proclaiming that this is indeed a great country. But the question has at least one other reading, merely asking for an alternative answer to Is this a great country?, and that’s the reading Biddle is playing with in the cartoon.

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Adj + N + N

May 17, 2015

Today’s Zippy dwells on a parsing ambiguity:

Two parsings for the Adj + N + N permanent laundry markers:

(1) Adj + [ N + N ] ‘laundry markers that are permanent’ (Griffy’s intent)

(2)  [ Adj + N ] + N ‘markers for permanent laundry’ (Zippy’s understanding)

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A chiastic riddle

May 17, 2015

From Benita Bendon Campbell, a riddle and its answer:

I wondered about the source of the image and of the riddle. (Bonnie found this version on the Writer’s Circle Facebook group, with no indication of its earlier history.) The riddle has appeared with quite a collection of artwork (on ecards, in particular), none of it attributed, and some posters characterize it as “an old riddle”, but that just might mean that they recall it from when they were younger; we could be looking at the Antiquity Illusion here.

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An attachment problem

May 16, 2015

Today’s One Big Happy:

Ruthie intends High Attachment for the adverb again, with the adverb modifying the VP with head feel, and that’s a possible parsing. But Low Attachment, with again modifying the VP with head smashing, is the default parsing, and that’s how Ruthie’s grandmother understands things.

How?

May 8, 2015

Today’s One Big Happy:]

Once again, Ruthie seizes the wrong fork of an ambiguity: the waiter intends “condition how“, but Ruthie understands it as “manner how“.

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