Archive for the ‘Ambiguity’ Category

A youth hostile?

October 19, 2014

Today’s Bizarro:

A pun on the noun hostel vs. the adjective hostile — a perfect pun for those who have /ˈhastl/ (with syllabic l) for both (so that it’s ambiguous), an imperfect pun for those who have this pronunciation for hostel, but have /ˈhaˌstajl/ for hostile.

hedgehogs

September 25, 2014

In a sale on the Mental Floss site, this delightful t-shirt:

N + N compounds are notoriously interpretable in many ways, so they lend themselves to (perfect) puns, as here, where two different senses of hedgehog are both at play.

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Three Saturday cartoons

September 6, 2014

… 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:

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-ese

August 4, 2014

Today’s Bizarro:

A play on the uses of the suffix -ese.

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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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