Archive for the ‘Ambiguity’ Category

Misleadingly named animals

July 27, 2015

Via Kim Darnell on Facebook (a very long time ago), this poster:

Eight composite names — some N + N, some Adj + N. The question here is the semantic contribution of each of the parts. The poster deliberately disregards the fact that these are common names, not technical labels from biology; and it insists on treating these names as definitions, which is something no mere label can do. And it throws in some tongue-in-cheek remarks.

(more…)

Dave Blazek

July 26, 2015

Another cartoonist new to this blog (like Ken Krimstein, recently posted on). The Loose Change cartoon by Blazek below (from 2010) came to me from the Grammarly Facebook page via a friend:

(#1)

Pin the Apostrophe on the Word.

There’s a rich vein of cartoons mocking English teachers for their purported inclination to focus on minutiae.

(more…)

complimentary

July 21, 2015

Today’s Bizarro, with a play on two senses of complimentary:

The short version of the story, on the adjective complimentary in NOAD2:

1 expressing a compliment; praising or approving: Jennie was very complimentary about Kathy’s riding | complimentary remarks.

2 given or supplied free of charge: a complimentary bottle of wine.

But there’s a considerably longer story, starting with the question of how these two senses are related.

(more…)

30 twats in a field

July 19, 2015

Passed along by Mike Pope, this supremely annoying video clip in which a man poses what sounds like a question riddle to a woman, who can’t interpret the question, and the man, chuckling offensively, just goes on repeating the question. But if she didn’t get the trick early on, she’ll be stuck indefinitely in her incomprehension — and by the time her tormentor finally provides hints that might let her see the trick, there’s no hope she’ll get out of the processing hole she’s in.

I would label the man as an asshole or a total dick, but since the speakers are British, I prefer to call him a first-class twat.

But check it out for yourself:

(more…)

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.

(more…)

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.

(more…)

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:

(more…)

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)

(more…)

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.

(more…)

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.

(more…)


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 852 other followers