Archive for the ‘Names’ Category

Comics and music

March 29, 2014

A Get Fuzzy cartoon, passed on by Billy Green on Facebook:


Two forms of name play here: a POP (phrasal overlap portmanteau) combining the artist formerly known as Prince (the musician) and Prince Valiant (the comics character); and then a play on the naming formula X and the Y(s) for musical groups (Prince and the Revolution, etc.), giving the groanworthy  O.J. and the Simpsons (combining O.J. Simpson and the Simpsons animated cartoon). Again, huge amounts of sociocultural knowledge required.

Food names

March 25, 2014

A continuing story. The current chapter: a WSJ piece on the 24th, “What’s More American Than Parmesan Cheese?: Plenty, according to the European Union. And its complaints could scuttle a trans-Atlantic trade deal” by Brian M. Carney:

More than half the members of the U.S. Senate rose in defense of American dairy last week, in what could be a sign of how hard it will be to forge a comprehensive trans-Atlantic trade deal.

The trouble comes from the European Union’s rules concerning “protected designations of origin” (PDO) and “protected geographical indications (PGI).” EU law allows producers of many foods —from Parmesan cheese to prosciutto — to apply for legal protection for the names of their products.


Two Wednesday cartoons

February 26, 2014

A Zippy on lexical semantics, and a wry Zits on watching your language:


Define sup, and distinguish the referent from slurp. The proper names are, as usual for Zippy, entertaining, and the title is a separate bit of language play.


The joke here, of course, is that Jeremy censors not just his speech — that would be routine — but also his thoughts.

Today’s holiday

February 17, 2014

This is an odd American holiday. This Washington Post piece from yesterday — “Why Presidents’ Day is slightly strange” by Valerie Strauss — explains why.


Morning names

February 14, 2014

For some time now, I’ve been waking in the morning with a name stuck in my head, usually a name from show business or television: Laura Prepon, Frank Gorshin, Sada Thompson, Danny Pino, etc. (you can look them up). Usually just one day each (though Prepon had a three- or four-day run). Not extraordinarily famous, and I’m not sure why they pop up: they don’t figure in my dreams, and I don’t recall having heard something about them in the days before their names appear.

It’s sort of like being given crossword puzzle clues in the morning:

Laura of That ’70s Show


Prepon of That ’70s Show.

Zippy nonsense

February 7, 2014

Today’s Zippy, which incorporates the comic-within-the-comic, Fletcher and Tanya:

F&T is a recurrent feature in Zippy. It’s a masterpiece of (Gricean) irrelevance, in which the conversational partners flagrantly talk past one another. What each of them says is grammatical English, though often peculiar in content. But the exchanges don’t cohere at all.



February 1, 2014

Arne Adolfsen has posted on Facebook about a forthcoming book on emeralds, which looks gorgeous. An illustration:


A story here on the book, Emerald: A Glittering Visual History Of Emeralds, which is scheduled to be published on February 16th.


Band names in the

January 26, 2014

Neal Whitman on the Grammar Girl website on the 14th: “Why Some Band Names Take “The” and Others Don’t”. The Beatles (not Beatles) but Led Zeppelin (not The Led Zeppelin). And some — whatever the band’s own naming practices — sometimes go either way: (the) Talking Heads.


Four cartoons

January 21, 2014

A sudden avalanche of linuistically interesting cartoons, on a variety of topics.


A link: Jewish surnames

January 10, 2014

Fascinating piece on Slate on the 8th by Bennett Muraskin, “Jewish Surnames Explained”. The crucial fact is that for a long time Jews had no family names as we understand them now, but used references of the FN1 child-of FN2 sort (very common around the world); I am Arnold Arnoldson, and my father was Arnold Melchiorson, in this system. For reasons briedfly noted in this piece, Jews were required to adopt fixed (and inheritable) family names; the piece eumerates the various strategies they adopted.


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