Archive for the ‘Formulaic language’ Category

Spiders and flies

April 12, 2014

Today’s Mother Goose and Grimm:

A transposition of the parts of a familiar saying.

Time flies when you’re having fun came up recently in a somewhat different kind of language play, a simple pun in a Dilbert, here

My Hobby Comics

March 24, 2014

Some bounty from the Stanford Linguistics in the Comics freshman seminar, a collection of xkcd cartoons with subheaded metatext “My Hobby”, searched out by Kyle Qian. Kyle found about 1,300 xkcd cartoons online, 36 of them subheaded this way, and he posted 7 of them with discussion. (I’ll put off posting about his comments until he gives me permission. The cartoons are in some sense public, but Kyle’s analysis is certainly not.)



March 15, 2014

Today’s Zippy:


Griffy and Zippy consider carrying identifying labels about their place in the social order. Serbio-Ethiopio-Greco-Roman is especially nice; there can’t be a lot of people claiming that as their ethnic heritage.

Then there’s Zippy in the last panel with another of his yet questions (the lineage of the formula goes back to Are we having fun yet?, a Griffith invention discussed every so often on this blog).

Another allusive pun

February 20, 2014

Yesterday’s Mother Goose and Grimm with an outrageous pun:


Slang change

February 15, 2014

Yesterday Mark Liberman posted on this Doonesbury cartoon:

Rich in material. The main thing I want to note (as Mark did) is a sense development in the slang verb rock, from an older sense, around at least since 1990 (‘impact strongly’), to a newer sense, the one in the cartoon, around since at least 2007 (‘wear or display conspicuously or proudly’); this is a change from a more objective sense to a more subjective one, such as Elizabeth Traugott has repeatedly discussed.


Superhero dining

January 31, 2014

Today’s Bizarro:


So Batman, like a good bat, orders insects, while Robin orders the worm: the early bird gets the worm. Proverbs rule.

Naughty Xmas

November 22, 2013

The Christmas holidays approach, and we get all sorts of word plays on seasonal themes. Here are three decidedly gay ones.


Town Diner

November 13, 2013

Today’s Zippy, back on the diner track:


The text of the strip veers Zippy-fashion through politics, art (Andrew Wyeth), and pop food (Mallomars), to culminate in an outrageous pun on “I never met a man I didn’t like” (attributed to Will Rogers).


Three cartoons

November 4, 2013

Three cartoons from Saturday: a Dilbert (on the nature of human beings); a Pearls Before Swine (with yet another ambiguity); and a Zippy (on politics, sort of).


Two cartoons

October 21, 2013

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


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.


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).



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