Archive for the ‘Nouning’ Category

Dave Blazek

July 26, 2015

Another cartoonist new to this blog (like Ken Krimstein, recently posted on). The Loose Change cartoon by Blazek below (from 2010) came to me from the Grammarly Facebook page via a friend:

(#1)

Pin the Apostrophe on the Word.

There’s a rich vein of cartoons mocking English teachers for their purported inclination to focus on minutiae.

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“beat a urine”

July 17, 2015

At first glance this looks like word salad, and things aren’t helped much if I tell you that it’s a VP, that it’s attested, and that it wasn’t an inadvertent error. Context, we need context.

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Why are they pets?

May 25, 2015

Today’s Rhymes With Orange:

(Note the title: “Linguistics 101”.)

For the people:

We call them pets because we pet them.

For the cats:

We call them feeds because they feed us.

The two cases of nouning aren’t parallel, but reversed — in a sense, chiastic.

May 26th. Note of etymological truth, which I playfully omitted in the original posting. This is a cute story for pet, but it’s etymologically backwards. The noun came first, for ‘indulged child’, then for ‘animal companion’, and then the verb was derived from the noun, meaning something on the order of ‘to treat like a pet’, specifically ‘to stroke’.

Specialists in International

April 7, 2015

Slogan on the side of a DHL truck in Palo Alto:

DHL — YOUR SPECIALISTS IN INTERNATIONAL SINCE 1969

The adjective international is serving as a noun here, conveying something like ‘international shipping’ or ‘international mail’ or ‘international delivery’. Informally, this is “nouning by truncation”, but the implicit noun head isn’t uniquely identifiable.

Two pieces of background here: on “nouning by truncation” and on the DHL company and its slogans.

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Too much whelm

February 12, 2015

From Alon Lischinsky, this Questionable Content cartoon:

A straightforward route to the noun whelm: from overhelm, the verb whelm by back-formation, then nouning of this verb, to give the abstract mass noun whelm.

But this analysis is a bit hazy,

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V vs. N

February 2, 2015

A Bizarro from 2012 (send to me by a kind friend whose identity I have managed to lose):

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Permanent

December 3, 2014

Today’s One Big Happy:

permanent record, with the most common, literal sense of permanent — well, most common for adult users, but things are likely to be different for kids like Ruthie.

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A Xmas penguin, and Jane Austen

November 2, 2014

Two recent items in my mail from Chris Ambidge (both entirely G-rated): a Xmas penguin, and a quotation from Jane Austen:

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(#2)

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hedgehogs

September 25, 2014

In a sale on the Mental Floss site, this delightful t-shirt:

N + N compounds are notoriously interpretable in many ways, so they lend themselves to (perfect) puns, as here, where two different senses of hedgehog are both at play.

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geosocial

September 7, 2014

It starts with today’s Doonesbury

(#1)

and ends with shirtless lycanthrophy. In between: Roland Hedley, III, the apps Tinder and Grindr (with some shirtlessness), geosocial networking (aka geosocial), and professional lycanthrope Tyler Posey (appearing shirtless). A long strange trip.

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