Archive for the ‘Linguistics in the comics’ Category

lady parts

September 18, 2014

Today’s Zits:


Jeremy and his buddy Pierce, and the slang euphemism lady parts.


Smoke signals

September 17, 2014

Today’s Bizarro:

Piraro has contemplated smoke signals on other occasions, in particular in the cartoon in my 6/3/12 posting “Balloons”, with two sets of Indians at a distance from one another. A pair, with one saying “Smoke signals. Can’t quite read ‘em.” And another Indian, about the speech balloon for the first speaker: “Who are those guys with the balloon?”

Every year, the same for Orange

September 15, 2014

That’s the title of this Awkward Yeti comic from 12/11/13:

CAT with HAT, WALL with BALL, and LOG with DOG, while ORANGE stands alone. It’s the celebrated “nothing rhymes with ORANGE” trope.


Background knowledge

September 14, 2014

Every so often, I post about how much background information can be required to make sense of what’s going on in a cartoon (and then to see why it’s funny); see, for example, “Bizarro followup” of 8/29. Now, through several Facebook friends, this wonderful New Yorker cartoon by Nick Downes:


First, you need to recognize the two figures at the door as clowns — sociocultural knowledge, but very widespread, so that’s not particularly challenging.

The man at the desk is telling someone on the phone that “they” (that is, we calculate, the clowns) have arrived, presupposing some previous discussion about the clowns. But why does he say “Don’t bother”?

To work that out, you need to supply a very particular bit of sociocultural knowledge. You need to know a specific song, or at least its title.


Hypothetical indirection

September 14, 2014

Today’s (re-run) Calvin and Hobbes:


Hobbes poses a hypothetical question to Calvin: suppose you knew …, then what would you do? Stated as a question, but functioning (indirectly) as a threatening instruction to do a specific thing (not named in the question, but inferrable from the context): do this, and today will not be the last day of your life — that is, DO THIS!

Not ending with a preposition

September 13, 2014

Today’s Mother Goose and Grimm:

Not ending a sentence with a preposition is one of those grammar myths debunked by virtually every usage authority. Here it surfaces in the supremely silly version that you should never end a sentence with “a preposition”. Note that the proscription violates itself.


mix media

September 12, 2014

Today’s Rhymes With Orange:

Instant food: just mix. And mix-n-match. But the linguistic point is mix media (for the expected mixed media) — an instance of lexicalized t/d deletion.


Zippy at the Alamo

September 12, 2014

No, not that Alamo, the Alamo Court Motel in Ocean City MD:


Meanwhile, Griffy confronts the paranoid conspiracist Claude (who serves as the loony foil to Bill Griffith’s voice of reason).


More sexual fap(p), plus shlick

September 11, 2014

Background: a posting on the verb fapp (with variant fap) ‘to masturbate furiously’ and one on the exclamation of annoyance Fap!. And now reader Paul comments on the former:

My understanding is that fap as onomatopoeia comes from [the webcomic Sexy Losers]

I do not know when the second p started to appear.

There seems to be some agreement that Sexy Losers at least popularized the sexual verb, whether or not it originated it — and that takes it back to 1999. Also in 1999 in Sexy Losers, the feminine counterpart, shlick (Urban Dictionary in 2004: “The onomatopoeic representation of female masturbation”).

Two examples, with the strips reduced to the final panel, and genitals cropped:

SL #158 “War Games” 10/13/02, in which guys find that long sessions of gaming can improve their ejaculation distance:


SL #166 “Psychology Games” 12/24/02, with both terms:




September 10, 2014

Following up on my posting on the verb fap(p) ‘to masturbate furiously’, Robert Coren thought he recalled Fap! as “an exclamation of annoyance commonly used by a character in some ancient comic strip — I think maybe Major Hoople”. Yes, indeed, Aric Olnes replied, Major Hoople, and supplied this strip:

(Chris Ambidge added that “FAP is one of my favourite words to use when annoyed or frustrated.”)



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 241 other followers