Archive for the ‘Figurative language’ Category

Clickbait

June 27, 2015

Today’s Rhymes With Orange:

A subtle pun on bait — understood literally, as in bait for fish, or understood figuratively, as an enticement (in this case to click on a link).

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The hunted 95 per cent?

June 4, 2015

Let’s start with:

(1) Hunted for its horns, 95 percent of the population disappeared

This looks like a classic “dangling modifier”. We have a SPAR hunted for its horns (a Subjectless Predicative Adjunct Requiring a referent for the missing subject), but the adjunct doesn’t obey the Subject Rule (doesn’t pick up its referent from the subject of the main clause: (1) doesn’t in fact tell us that 95 percent of the population was hunted for its horns). (On the concepts and terminology, see the material in the Page on “Dangler postings”, especially the “as a SPAR” posting.)

But even without context, (1) is easily understood: 95 percent of the population is a metonymic stand-in for a population of X, and it’s X that was hunted for its horns. But that takes some interpretive work. However, when more discourse context is provided, this work is no longer needed, and I’d expect that readers wouldn’t even notice that (1) is technically a dangling modifier.

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Why are they pets?

May 25, 2015

Today’s Rhymes With Orange:

(Note the title: “Linguistics 101″.)

For the people:

We call them pets because we pet them.

For the cats:

We call them feeds because they feed us.

The two cases of nouning aren’t parallel, but reversed — in a sense, chiastic.

May 26th. Note of etymological truth, which I playfully omitted in the original posting. This is a cute story for pet, but it’s etymologically backwards. The noun came first, for ‘indulged child’, then for ‘animal companion’, and then the verb was derived from the noun, meaning something on the order of ‘to treat like a pet’, specifically ‘to stroke’.

Two political cartoonists

May 25, 2015

To link to a posting on Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes, some notes on Watterson’s favorite political / editorial cartoonists, Pat Oliphant and Jim Borgman.

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Fig time

May 20, 2015

A couple days ago I caught a snippet of a discussion on KQED-FM about overwintering fig plants. Why people were discussing the topic as we near the beginning of summer I don’t know, but there it was. I’m not caring for any fig plants here in Palo Alto, but back when I lived in Columbus OH most of the year I had two: a Ficus benjamina, a very common house plant in temperate climates; and a Ficus carica, the plant the people on the radio were talking about (an ornamental and the source of the figs we eat), which I grew in Columbus as a potted plant, to serve as a reminder of California.

Now some figgy reflections, starting with some Ficus plants and then wandering on to other fig-related matters: the fig leaf of modesty, figgy pudding, Fig Newtons, and the negative polarity item care/give a fig.

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Don’t shade your eyes

May 18, 2015

Today’s Zits:

Has Jeremy been involved in “the practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own” (NOAD2)? Well, he’s certainly passed off as his own work something that was not. His defense appears to be that there is no person whose work this was; he wasn’t stealing from anyone. A bold move, but one that’s not flying with his teacher.

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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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Androids on the march

May 15, 2015

Sexy Friday continues, with the war between the sexes in today’s Scenes From a Multiverse:

First, misogynoids launched against the women, then misandroids launched in retaliation, sowing the boner-destroying deathsterone.

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Feuilleton: red-flannel hash

April 30, 2015

Noticed in passing: a recipe in the NYT for red-flannel hash: a colorfully named dish.

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Cluster Fucked

April 24, 2015

(Obviously heavy on taboo language, some of it about man-man sex, but no images. Use with caution.)

In mail today from TitanMen (the gay porn studio), an ad for the new video Cluster Fucked, about orgy scenes (and gangbangs). Samples on the TitanMen site for three group sex scenes, involving (for those of you who follow these things) pornstars:

Francois Sagat, Dean Flynn, Diesel Washington, CJ Madison, Brody Newport

Jason Branch, Jon Galt, Lance Gear, Nick Nicaste

Jessy Ares, Marco Wilson, Junior Stellano, Wilfried Knight

There are two senses for the noun clusterfuck or cluster fuck. From Urban Dictionary, in addition to the ‘orgy’ sense:

Military term for an operation in which multiple things have gone wrong. Related to “SNAFU” (Situation Normal, All Fucked Up”) and “FUBAR” (Fucked Up Beyond All Repair).

In radio communication or polite conversation ([e.g.,] with a very senior officer with whom you have no prior experience) the term “clusterfuck” will often be replaced by the NATO phonetic acronym “Charlie Foxtrot.”

And from the scholarly Jesse Sheidlower (3rd ed. of The F-Word), who doesn’t have Charlie Foxtrot:

  1. an orgy [from 1965 on]
  2. Military. a bungled or confused undertaking or situation; mess; (also) a disorganized group of individuals. [from 1969 on]

Both senses have the occasional variant Mongolian clusterfuck / cluster fuck.

The connection between the two senses? One clue is that a similar ambiguity arises for circle jerk ‘group masturbation scene’, ‘mess’ and some other items. From a posting of mine on 1/3/11:

Having just posted, on my X blog, on group sex in gay porn, I’ve returned to some material on circle jerk that I started collecting in 2004

… Tom Dalzell pointed out on ADS-L that HDAS (the Historical Dictionary of American Slang) has circle jerk ‘mess’ since 1973, and the compound seemed to him to be fairly common in that sense. And Doug Wilson noted a possible parallel to cluster fuck, goat fuck, pooch screw, etc. (especially in military contexts), in which “Instead of getting their job done, the participants are engaged in undisciplined,  undignified, useless activity: e.g., metaphorically, group sex or sex with animals.


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