Archive for the ‘Poetic form’ Category

Commercial portmanteau

May 19, 2014

From Ryan Tamares recently, a piece of a Subway Flatizza box. The box woudn’t scan for me, but what it says is Flatizza™:  “Cheesy & delicious meets crispy & square” (easily readable as tetrameter, with front-accented feet). Square flatbread with pizza toppings: cheese, pepperoni, spicy Italian, veggie.

Flatizza is of course a portmanteau of flatbread (contributing flat-) and pizza (contributing -izza), without overlap between the two parts.


Medicinal meter

May 3, 2014

For some years, I’ve been taking a diuretic with a long name that lots of people, including some medical personnel, have trouble pronouncing, though I don’t. What works for me is that the name is in trochaic tetrameter (with a final short foot):

hydrochlorothiazide: HY dro CHLo ro THI a ZIDE

Trochaic tetrameter is the meter of most English folk verse (folk songs, nursery rhymes, etc.), many advertising slogans, sayings, and more. People didn’t frame these with the trochaic tetrameter pattern in mind; they chose expressions according to what “sounded good” to them — that is, according to an implicit or unconscious aesthetic.


Mole Vole

April 25, 2014

Posted on Facebook by Jeff Shaumeyer:


Jeff writes:

Here’s an interior shot at Bowen’s Farm Supply. I took it mostly because I was moved by the poetry of the phrase “Mole Vole Rodent Control”.

The sort of expression that Zippy the Pinhead is inclined to treat as a mantra, repeating it over and over to savor it.


The lure of trochaic tetrameter

March 20, 2014

A commercial for Cyvita is currently going the rounds. It promises

Longer, stronger, and more frequent erections

It begins with two rhyming trochees (SW SW), then branches out into two more complex feet, trochaic in feel but with leading weak (extrametrical) syllables ( ( WW ) SW and ( W ) SW).

Trochees are everywhere in English, and tetrameter is the predominant meter for folk verse of all kinds.


More Dingburger bar bat

March 12, 2014

In today’s Zippy, we return to the Poindexter bar bat; see “The Poindexter bar bat, or barbat”, here, with extended discussion, including material from the Zippy archives and an analysis of bar bat. From that posting:

Poindexter bar bats: Poindexter is just one of those names that entertain Bill Griffith because of the sound; but what about bar bat? Like many things in Zippy, this is surely meant to be absurd but suggestive.


Now we have the extended plaid Poindexter bar bat, which Muffler Bunyan enjoys because of its sound. A little festival of bilabial plosives ( /p p b b/ ), and tetrameter, the dominant English folk meter.


Brief notice: jazz haiku

October 13, 2013

In yesterday’s NYT, an obit, “James A. Emanuel, Poet Who Wrote of Racism, Dies at 92″ by William Yardley, concluding:

In his later years, Mr. Emanuel claimed to have invented a new form of literature: the jazz haiku, stanzas of 17 syllables he read to the accompaniment of jazz music. Like the music, they felt improvisational even as they respected structure:

Four-letter word JAZZ:
naughty, sexy, cerebral,
but solarplexy.

Googling on “jazz haiku” pulls up a considerable number of haiku about jazz.

Porn prosody

August 29, 2013

Another installment of material on the (gay) porn register, following up on this posting, where I looked at some lexical features, saying about

man pussy, boy pussy, man cunt, boy cunt, man hole, [and] boy hole. These are terms strongly associated with gay porn (fiction, scripts of videos, and descriptions of videos) but not much used by gay men in everyday life; they are part of a specialized porn register, akin to the specialized registers in some other domains

Today there’s some more lexical stuff, but mostly it’s about the prosody of some writing about porn; like some other advertising copy, there’s some tendency for it to fall into metrically regular patterns.

The text is the copy on the front cover of the Dream World (1994) DVD:


The queen of South Jersey diner haiku

August 4, 2013

Today’s Zippy:


Three haikus on the abandoned Olga’s Diner in Marlton Circle in South Jersey.


Revolution at school

July 14, 2013

Today’s Bizarro, for Bastille Day (today):

Bring the revolution to school! As it happens, Doug Wyman wrote me a little while ago about a piece of revolutionary childlore, the rhyme:

No more pencils,
No more books,
No more teachers’/teacher’s/teachers dirty looks.

(This is a rhyming couplet, in trochaic tetrameter, written here with the first line split in two.) Doug wondered about variations in the rhyme. It looks like the couplet above is invariant (in pronunciation; there are orthographic variants given above), but there are numerous extensions to it around, and some of them are aggressive taunts against teachers and schools.)


Cattions 4

May 30, 2013

Over on AZBlogX, 13 more cattions (male photography with captions by me and cat stickers by B. Kliban): 2 based on Michael Taubenheim photos, 3 on Benno Thoma, 1 Marc Bessange, and 7 Bel Ami. Some are X-rated, many are not, but none is particularly language-related, so they appear on AZBlogX, rather than here.

However, from Cattions 1, here’s a Taubenheim of interest:

The caption is a nice bit of trochaic tetrameter: Pérry / dréams of / béing / píssed on. With the accented vowels in a tight phonological space: — / ɛ  i  i  ɪ / — and the foot-initial consonants — / p  d  b  p  / — as well, with the repeated vowel /i/ in the center of the line and the repeated consonant /p/ at the edges, and with the closely related lax vowels / ɛ ɪ / at the edges and the closely related voiced stops / d b / in the center. I wish I could say that I achieved this amount of balance in the line by calculation, but frankly, I just went with what sounded good to me (and analyzed the result much later).

Then, of course, the caption dirties up the model’s earnestly yearning facial expression.


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