To link to a posting on Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes, some notes on Watterson’s favorite political / editorial cartoonists, Pat Oliphant and Jim Borgman.
Archive for the ‘Linguistics in the comics’ Category
In the June 2015 Funny Times, a cartoon by UK cartoonist Clive Goddard, for which I supply here only the caption, which bears almost all the humor anyway (I haven’t been able to find an image on-line). A committee of four people are gathered thoughtfully around a conference table:
Central Sub-Committee Steering Group for the Facilitation of Brevity & Clarity of Language Usage in the User/Provider Communication Interface (Formerly the plain English group)
Oh, how they have fallen!
Follow-up on the 25th: Sim Aberson has unearthed a copy of the cartoon, in a Nuclear Regulatory Commission posting on “Plain Writing and Its Benefits”:
Today’s Doonesbury, in which Barack Obama toys with the Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate, Mitch McConnell
Much as McConnell would like to deny that the sky is blue, that’s too much for him to assert directly, so he says that he’s not qualified to answer the question, in effect issuing a sideways denial.
The strategy is familiar from the positions politicians take on climate denial.
Portmanteau of Godzilla and Cinderella.
(If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Don Piraro says there are 5 in this strip — see this Page.)
Michael Maslin in the latest (May 25th) New Yorker:
(You need to recognize from the setting that the creature the cowboy is faced with is a so-called prairie dog — not any kind of dog, but instead a kind of ground squirrel.)
The echo of “I’m not that kind of girl” adds to the humor.
Self-reflective cavemen, with a keen sense of lexical semantics in English. Most people use the word prehistoric in a sense NOAD2 labels “informal”:
very old, primitive, or out of date: my dad’s electric typewriter was a prehistoric machine
But the cavemen understand it in its technical (and etymological) sense:
of, relating to, or denoting the period before written records: prehistoric man
(If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Don Piraro says there are 2 in this strip — see this Page.)
(This would be an occasion to announce that an inventory of Mother Goose and Grimm postings, on Language Log and this blog, is now available as a Page “MGG cartoons” on this blog.)
Today’s Mother Goose and Grimm:
Grimmy is lured by the tv commercials. From my “Pitchmen” posting of 2009:
The Atlantic City “boardwalk product pitch” plays a big role in the development of the television infomercial, from its beginnings with Ed Valenti and his business partner (Ginsu knives, “But wait! There’s more!”, and “Call now!”, among other things)
A Meg Biddle cartoon in the June 2015 Funny Times:
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.
The cover of the June 2015 Funny Times, by Matt Wuerker:
What caught my eye was panderthon, (roughly) ‘an interminable occasion of pandering’, with the libfix -(a)thon. The word is especially associated with political pandering, as here.
Today’s Mother Goose and Grimm, with a literalist Ralph coping with Grimm’s could care less:
could care less has been a perennial topic on Language Log and this blog. But in all the discussion among linguists and psycholinguists no one disputes that there’s an idiom here, and it has a negative element of meaning that is not overt. Ralph the literalist essentially denies this, implicitly taking the position that if Grimmy meant he couldn’t care less he should have said that.