Archive for the ‘Formulaic language’ Category

Search for the magic slogan

August 2, 2015

Today’s Dilbert, with a brainstorming session at the office:

b (#1)

All they need is a magic slogan, in three words, clearly explaining everything the new product does. Labels — names — aren’t good at doing this task, and slogans (which are primarily designed for conveying emotions) are even worse than labels.

And yes, Alice, “Keep Doing It” is in some sense already taken. Several times, probably.

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Failure to reach proverbial status

July 25, 2015

A Roz Chast cartoon from the July 27th New Yorker:

Each panel has its subject failing to reach the level required for some piece of formulaic language to apply:

She’s a force of nature.
After he was made, people threw away the mold.
She’s completely irrepressible.

Zippy and the Icon at the Bluebonnet

July 16, 2015

Today’s Zippy, which leads in several directions:

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Zippy at the Bluebonnet Diner in Northampton MA, trading warning signs at the counter with an icon representing a (generic) person.

Stuff here: the diner; broasted chicken; warning signs; icons (for a man, for a person); punchline.

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I Can’t Even

July 5, 2015

A follow-up to my posting “That goes without”, on an Amanda Hess piece in the NYT Magazine of 6/14, about the (largely) teenage use of “I can’t even” to convey being rendered speechless by strong emotion. Now to the letters section in the magazine for 6/28, which comes with two Tom Gauld cartoons illustrating reader comments.

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Thought balloons

June 23, 2015

In the July 2015 Funny Times (p. 10), a cartoon about cartoon conventions, which I’ll have to describe to you rather than show to you (for reasons I’ll explain).

It shows a man standing by a sidewalk in a park, offering balloons for sale. The placard next to him says

THOUGHT
BALLOONS
75¢

And the balloons are labeled:

NOW WHAT?
WHAT’S FOR DINNER?
LIFE IS STRANGE
LIVE IN THE MOMENT
BE HAPPY!

each supplying a thought.

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A thousand likes

June 19, 2015

On Wednesday, a notification from WordPress that I had achieved

a thousand likes

on this blog since it started late in 2008.

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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:

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(#2)

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Talking wine

June 6, 2015

A cartoon in the latest (June 8th/15th) New Yorker by Jason Adam Katzenstein:

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It’s the wine talking is used to confess something you might not have said if you hadn’t drunk some wine. But it’s a formulaic expression, so it can be deployed in other ways, for instance to introduce talk about wine.

In the cartoon, the wine is literally talking.

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Ruthie and large-scale formulas

May 30, 2015

Yet another cartoon for this Saturday: a One Big Happy:

Ruthie tackles a large-scale formula here — one that has no words rare in her experience, but they’re assembled in a way that makes no sense to her, so she mentally makes large-scale adjustments.

Or what?

May 22, 2015

A Meg Biddle cartoon in the June 2015 Funny Times:

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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.

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