Archive for the ‘Nouning’ Category

paper cut

June 26, 2014

For years it was clasped firmly in the embrace of a plastic device with a magnetic strip on the back, which allowed it to be displayed on a refrigerator (or other metal surface). But then it somehow slipped out and, being almost weightless, wafted away on some breath of a breeze, until eventually it was discovered by a visitor, on the floor far from the refrigerator.

It’s a Chinese paper cut, depicting my animal from the Chinese zodiac, the dragon:

A gift from the students in my 1985 classes at the Beijing Language Institute (as it was then).


Coping with the new

June 2, 2014

In today’s One Big Happy, Ruthie and Joe are back on the track of trying to make sense of things they haven’t heard before:


Lots of knowledge needed here — about the words of English and about sociocultural conventions:


May-June turnover

June 1, 2014

A One Big Happy from yesterday (May 25), on conversational organization; and then three from this morning’s (June 1st) crop: a Bizarro with an ambiguity introduced by truncation; yet another meta-Zippy, this time on reports of Zippy’s death; and a Rhymes With Orange with a pun from the Black Lagoon.



May 12, 2013

An eCard:

Well, smartass isn’t directly a compound of the adjective smart ‘impertinent’ and the noun ass; instead, -ass serves here as an expressive extension of smart (as in sweet-ass ‘really sweet, big-ass ‘really big’, dumb-ass ‘really dumb’, etc.) — note He’s always asking smart-ass / dumb-ass questions — and the extended adjective was then nouned, giving an alternative to smart aleck, smartypants, and in fact the noun smarty.


Brief mention: Hairspray mass nouning

May 12, 2013

From the 1988 movie version of Hairspray (which I watched for Mothers Day):

You better brace yourself for a whole lot of ugly coming from a never-ending parade of stupid.

(with reference to the consequences of integrating a teen dance show on tv).

Mass-nouning of ugly and stupid, in a single sentence. It might be relevant that the line comes from a black character, Motormouth Maybelle (played by Ruth Brown).

On nounings of stupid in several senses, with links to other discussions, see this posting.



May 1, 2013

An Emily Flake cartoon in the May 6th New Yorker:

Word play exploiting an ambiguity in ultimate.


Manliness and money

April 13, 2013

Among today’s cartoons, a Zippy on manliness and a Bizarro on slang for money:


Nouning in the NYT

April 2, 2013

In the NYT Sunday Review of 3/31, a nice piece by Henry Hitchings on nouning (“Those Irritating Verbs-as-Nouns”). The illustration:



Language play log

December 15, 2012

Three items with language play in them that came by me recently, in the order of their appearance: (1) the Mental Floss list of their ten best-selling t-shirts; (2) an Ian Shoales piece rushing through “The Catchphrase History of the World”; and (3) some porn flick titles.



December 5, 2012

From Geoff Nathan on ADS-L, the Pearls Before Swine cartoon from yesterday:

Geoff offered Rat’s derivation of sprouts as a prime example of of etymythology, and that it certainly is. Discussion on the strip’s site, meanwhile, took up the question of sprouts ‘sprouted seeds used as an ingredient or accompaniment in food preparation’ vs. sprouts ‘Brussels sprouts'; as far as I know, no one puts Brussels sprouts in sandwiches, and Goat’s sandwich surely has alfalfa sprouts or something similar in it. (more…)


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