Archive for the ‘Formulaic language’ Category

Two linguistics cartoons

September 28, 2014

… in the latest (9/29/14) New Yorker: a Zach Kanin on writing systems and a Joe Dator with a snow cone snowclone:

(#1)

(#2)

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Bad to the Bone

September 22, 2014

Today’s Zits:

Ah the young, failing to appreciate musical history!

The video, with George Thorogood and the Destroyers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_7VsoxT_FUY

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Three from New Scientist

September 4, 2014

From the 8/30/14 New Scientist, three stories: one with a piece of technical terminology I hadn’t heard before, and two perfectly straightforward stories (on the mapping of Antarctic Ocean life and on the mating customs of the giraffe weevil) with some language play that’s characteristic of much science writing.

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Bizarro followup

August 29, 2014

Posting yesterday on that day’s Bizarro, with only minimal commentary on it. Now a follow-up on two topics: what you have to know to make sense of what’s going on in the cartoon; and what makes it funny.

The cartoon repeated here:

 

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Abs of the week

August 19, 2014

… plus a kilt and an implied (sort of) apology:

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Clickbait schemes

July 17, 2014

Andras Kornai wrote me on Tuesday to comment on a prominent pattern he’d seen in online clickbaiting, exemplified by:

You Won’t Believe What This Cop Did When The Cameras WEREN’T Rolling. WOW!

Man Attempts To Hug a Wild Lion. What Happens Next Stunned Me

He’s collected hundreds of similar examples and wondered whether others had noticed the pattern (many have in fact been annoyed by it) and whether it had gotten a name (not so far as I know). In this particular schema, the “hook” is an expression of astonishment or surprise, which can be expressed in a number of ways, referring to the reader (“you won’t believe”, “you’ll be amazed”) or to the presumed writer (“… stunned me”, “I couldn’t believe”), in a variety of syntactic constructions. As a temporary expedient, I’ll refer to this as the SURPRISE! clickbait scheme.

The scheme is “semi-formulaic”, in a way that’s reminiscent of the precursors to snowclones (see “The natural history of snowclones”, here): a culturally significant idea is given a number of formulations; one version achieves special status (in a formula); and then this formula serves as a template for new expressions. The SURPRISE! scheme hasn’t yet crystallized as a formula, but it’s nevertheless recognizable by its form(s) and functions.

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Anemone pun

July 1, 2014

Today’s Mother Goose and Grimm:

Mistaken anemone for mistaken identity. Phonologically distant, but interpretable because mistaken identity is an idiom, a formulaic expression, which is, moreover, appropriate to the context of the cartoon.

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Four for the fourth

June 5, 2014

My morning mail on Wednesday the 4th brought me six suitable cartoons for this blog. Two I have already posted about: a Doonesbury with Duke hallucinating a lizard; and a Bizarro with a diner asking for eggs without any sense of style. The others: a One Big Happy on the attractions of “diet” versions of foods; a Zits on hearing and listening; a Zippy with (among other things) more better; and a Mother Goose and Grimm with a symbolic ambiguity.

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Threesies

May 29, 2014

From Bob Mankoff’s How About Never …  (see here), p. 255, on Mankoff’s effort to give “aspiring cartoonists feedback” by “developing a mini course in cartoon fundamentals and the psychology of humor.” One course topic: “things are funnier in threes”.

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Formulaic: Zippy, OBH

May 4, 2014

Two Sunday cartoons touching on formulaic language: a Zippy with clichés, a One Big Happy with a familiar quotation in a German accent:

(#1)

The line between clichés and idioms is not always clear (and I’m not at all sure that making the distinction clearer would be particularly useful): I’d class have a frog in one’s throat and zip your lip, for instance, as idioms.

(#2)

The German heavy from a bad movie, with a standard line.


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