Archive for the ‘Linguistics in the comics’ Category

Books: cartoon/comic classics

February 28, 2015

Published late in 2014, two books on classic cartoons and comics, with non-overlapping subjects:

Richard Gehr. 2014. I Only Read it for the Cartoons: The New Yorker’s Most Brilliantly Twisted Artists.  Houghton Mifflin. (With a foreword by Matt Groening.)


Monte Beauchamp. 2014. Masterful Marks: Cartoonists Who Changed the World. Simon & Schuster. (16 graphic biographies.)




February 27, 2015

Today’s Zippy:

Resistance to modern communications technology, both hardware and software, is a recurrent theme in Zippy. This time it’s social media under fire from our Pinhead.

Comic conventions

February 26, 2015

Two cartoons today touching on conventions of the comics: A Calvin and Hobbes on conventional characters in the comics and a Zippy on the conventions of surrealistic cartooning:




The thieving sap spitter

February 26, 2015

Today’s Bizarro, which is, well, bizarre:

Not only do we have a thieving bird that carries off letters of the alphabet, we have one that takes them from the cartoon itself. Bizarre indeed.


Return of the word avalanche

February 26, 2015

Yesterday’s Pearls Before Swine, with a word avalanche:

As before in Pearls, the strip goes meta when the cartoonist is taken to task for his word play.



February 25, 2015

Yesterday’s Rhymes With Orange:

Presumably Hilary Price’s intention was that the spelling FRAUG, pronounced [frɔ:ɡ], should represent a combination of FROG — pronounced [frɑ:ɡ] or [frɔ:ɡ], depending on your variety of American English — and FRAUD, pronounced [frɔ:d] for many American speakers, but [frɑ:d] for American speakers who level [ɔ:] and [ɑ:] in favor of the latter (the “COT-CAUGHT merger”: both these words are pronounced [kɑ:t], DAWN and DON are both [dɑ:n], and SHAW and SHAH are both [ʃɑ:]).

[Addendum: an earlier posting on frog and fraud has a Discover Card commercial that plays on a confusion between the two.]

Ode to Almond Joy

February 24, 2015

Today’s Zippy, with a candy-bar parody of Schiller’s Ode to Joy (An der Freude), used by Beethoven in the last movement of his Ninth Symphony:


Almond Joy, Mounds, Mars bars! Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t.



February 23, 2015

Today’s One Big Happy, in which it turns out that Ruthie isn’t the only character who’s unsure about word meanings:

NOAD2 identifies gormless as informal and specifically British, so it’s no surprise that the adults don’t know what it means (though the appalling Avis takes it back to a putative noun stem gorm, which she treats as a mass noun (gormless ‘without gorm, lacking gorm’), though it could be a count noun (gormless ‘without gorms, lacking gorms’)).



February 22, 2015

Today’s Bizarro, continuing Piraro’s ambiguity theme:

PST lost of the transitive verb lose, used here in a specialized subsense of a ‘be deprived of’ sense. From NOAD2:

be deprived of (a close relative or friend) through their death or as a result of the breaking off of a relationship: she lost her husband in the fire.

This in contrast to an ‘unable to find’ sense:

become unable to find (something or someone): I’ve lost the car keys.

How do we work out that these two senses intersect in the cartoon?


Tech talk

February 21, 2015

Today’s Dilbert, in which the pointy-headed boss asks for investment advice:

The boss is fine with colorful figurative jargon in the investment world, but balks at the term diversification because of the spelling challenges it presents.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 608 other followers