Archive for the ‘Ambiguity’ Category

toast

July 29, 2014

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.

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Cartoon ambiguities

July 25, 2014

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:

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Title or slogan?

June 20, 2014

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.

May-June turnover

June 1, 2014

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.

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Three for Memorial Day

May 26, 2014

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).

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Three more diverse

May 24, 2014

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.

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Five for Friday

May 18, 2014

Five items, several of which lead to more complex topics: a Harry Bliss cartoon that I caught, reprinted, in the Funny Times for May; a Zippy on art forgery; a One Big Happy with a kid eggcorn; a Zits with alliteration and rhyme (and the sexual marketplace); and a Rhymes With Orange on consonants and vowels.

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On the verge of a collective

May 12, 2014

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?

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Three more for Friday

May 2, 2014

Three cartoons today, on diverse topics: Calvin and Hobbes on explanations, Zits on means of communication (again), Bizarro on word play turning on ambiguity.

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Background knowledge

April 27, 2014

On April 25th, on ADS-L, from Pat O’Conner (of Grammarphobia.com), under the heading “A crash blossom for the ages”:

Dare you to decipher this one, from Reuters (London) on April 16th:

“Stuttering Man City Held by Bottom Side Sunderland”

Pat translates:

“Man City” is Manchester City, a football (soccer) team (or “side”). Sunderland is another; it plays in the lowest league (“bottom”).

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