Archive for the ‘Hypallage’ Category

Two cartoons

October 21, 2013

Monday morning comics: A Bizarro with word play, A Pearls Before Swine with a slogan reworked:

(#1)

Another kind of hypallage (see here), with a VP adverbial (here, a little) converted to a modifier of a N: play guitar a little > play a little guitar. This particular hypallage has become conventionalized: play some / a lot of / occasional / etc. guitar.

(#2)

KEEP CALM — CARRY ON is an excellent slogan phonologically: good prosody, near rhyme (note calmon). PANIC — AND THROW A FUCKING FIT isn’t quite as compact as the model, but it has its own virtues (includling the alliteration in FUCKING FIT, plus panic – fit).

xx

Shirtless hypallage

October 15, 2013

From recent postings on shirtlessness:

I didn’t find really stunning shirtless photos of them [Riley and Xander] separately, but I did come across a manip … of the two of them in carnal congress (link)

Shirtless photos of [Christopher] Reeve are surprisingly hard to come by. (link)

Tim [Lincecum] has a huge fan following, and others have scoured the net for shirtless photos of him (link)

Shirtless photos of X. Note that the photos aren’t shirtless, X is; the expression is roughly paraphrasable as photos of X shirtless or photos of a shirtless X. That is, the modifier shirtless appears in construction not with the N it belongs with semantically, but with a different N (in this case, the head N of the expression). This is the figure of speech known as the transferred epithet or hypallage, and we’re seen it before on Language Log and this blog.

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Porn hypallage and sex-part conversion

December 13, 2010

From the 1988 gay porn flick Cruisin': Men on the Make, in scene 2, dominant man says to his submissive fellator:

You suck good cock.

meaning ‘you suck cock good/well, you’re a good cocksucker’ — that is, with a modifier of one type realized as an adjectival modifier of the direct object. This is a transferred epithet, or hypallage (some discussion here, with some links to earlier postings), related to the hypallage in give good/great/fantastic/… head.

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Annals of hypallage

May 12, 2010

From a Talk of the Town piece — “End is Near Dept.: Fallout”, by Nick Paumgarten — in the May 10 New Yorker:

Last month in Washington, President Obama convened world leaders to discuss the dangers of nuclear proliferation and of inadquately secured nuclear material. For people of a certain furrowed cast of mind, the summit revived fears of a nuclear terrorist attack on an American city.

It’s the “furrowed cast of mind”. No one’s cast of mind is furrowed. However, in contemplating the possibility of nuclear attack your brow might be furrowed — furrowed brow is one of those expressions that might be classified as a common collocation, an idiom, or a cliché (or several of these at once), but it’s certainly some kind of fixed expression — so that the furrowing is transferred, in the telling, from the brow to the cast of mind it accompanies. This is a particularly nice example of the transferred epithet, or hypallage, a figure of speech I’ve talked about several times (most recently on this blog, here, with reference to the expression distracted driving, and with a link back to a Language Log discussion; earlier notable examples included free-range mayonnaise).

Hypallage is a type of non-predicating modification, in expressions of the form X N where X is syntactically a modifier of N but is not interpreted as being predicated of N. Some types of non-predicating modification are pretty easy to pick out: for instance, “pseudo-adjectives”, as in electrical engineering, where the A isn’t predicated of the N but instead evokes another N (electricity in this case) that figures in the interpretation of the combination.

(It can be hard to distinguish hypallage from other figures, in particular metaphor and metonymy, and I’m not sure it’s profitable to try to carve up the world of non-predicating modification into traditional categories like these.)

Here are two further reasonably clear instances of hypallage. From a postcard I got a while back, advertising an Erotic Arts and Crafts Fair (for Valentine’s Day) in Toronto (thanks to Chris Ambidge), the announcement of an erotic bake sale. Simplifying (for the moment) both the name of the event as a whole and the name of the featured event within it, we get: erotic fair, erotic sale. Now, the fair really isn’t erotic, and the sale certainly isn’t; instead, the fair celebrates things erotic (I’ll put aside the question of what makes things erotic), and what’s on sale is goods with an erotic theme, with reference to or depictions of things erotic.

The actual examples are somewhat complicated by the fact that the head N in each case is not a single word, but a complex expression (arts and crafts fair, bake goods). Arts and crafts fair is a relatively unproblematic N + N compound (with a coordinate first element), with one of the canonical interpretations for compounds, ‘HeadN for/of ModifierN’. Bake goods is a tougher nut, since it seems to be partway on the path from A + N, with bake ‘produced by baking’ as an anomalous-form  A (it doesn’t look like an A) historically reduced from the PSP-V A baked (a reduction that’s come up often on Language Log), to N + N, with bake as an anomalous-meaning N (it isn’t the N bake of clam bake, etc.).


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