Archive for the ‘Lexical semantics’ Category

Too early for celebration?

November 29, 2015

Today’s Bizarro, set in the Stone Age:

(If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Don Piraro says there are 5 in this strip — see this Page.)

Even if you’re generous in your understanding of when the Stone Age was, it was certainly over before the time of Jesus, and that is not just a tree decorated for some celebration of the winter, but it’s specifically a Christmas tree; note the star on top. So the tree is up at least 2000 years early (and probably considerably more).


stuffing, dressing, filling

November 26, 2015

The centerpiece of the traditional Thanksgiving meal:

A roasted turkey, with its body cavity filled with a mixture of ingredients that were inside it during the roasting. There is some dispute — well, variation in local usage, about which some people feel proprietary — as to what this mixture is called: stuffing (which is pretty transparent semantically) and dressing (which is puzzling) are the most common alternatives, but some Pennsylvania Dutch folk favor filling (pretty semantically transparent again). But matters are more complicated, since some things called stuffing are used as side dishes, not stuffed into anything.

Then there’s the puzzle of dressing, which turns out to have a surprising etymology, one that connects it to the piece of women’s clothing the dress.


You’re done

November 25, 2015

Today’s Mother Goose and Grimm (Thanksgiving edition):


So this turkey comes into a bar…

And sits down next to the Boston terrier Ralph, who cuts off the turkey’s drinks, announcing to him that he’s done (finished drinking). — because. pointing to the pop-up timer in his breast, he’s done (cooked thoroughly).


cold cuts

November 12, 2015

Recently I wondered about the story of cold cuts ‘lunch meat’, an Adj + N composite that is not particularly transparent semantically (in fact, lunch meat isn’t fully transparent either). There’s some interesting linguistic history here. But there’s clearly also some substantial cultural history to be uncovered, and for this I don’t have the resources.


On the cellblock, in the dugout, at an ambush

November 5, 2015

(The male body, man-man sex, and roles in sex. You have been warned.)

Yesterday’s Daily Jocks ad brings us some commanding presences:


Dominic in Dugout briefs


Mester in an Alpha harness

Dominic’s in control, and he
Knows what he wants you to
Do; submit to him. Or you can
Serve his brother
Mester; they’re both ready to
Take you.

We’re in the CellBlock 13 world of high masculinity, doms and subs, masters and slaves, and sexual fetishes.


X snob

October 31, 2015

First, I note a snowclonelet composite not discussed earlier on this blog: X snob, involving a specialized use of the noun snob. Then I summarize some ADS-L discussion of possible extensions of the snowclonelet, where it was suggested that the snowclonelet might in some cases be losing its pejorative tone.



October 26, 2015

The Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal from the 24th:

And no wonder: Baby Noam knows enough about Language to start a sustained argument that animals don’t have it, but not enough about the details of English to understand that the woman was asking what the conom (conventional onomatopoetic word — see discussion in the last section of my posting on Liam Walsh) is in English for the sound made by a chimp. (Note: there isn’t one, so far as I know). The facts of English usage in this domain are fairly complex, but little kids (other than Baby Noam, it seems) manage to cope very well with it.


Sunday penis notes: #3 phallic food

October 25, 2015

(Lots of penis talk, but some linguistic points along the way.)

More things that popped up when I went looking for something having to do with penises — and was offered various sites on phallic food, a long-standing topic on this blog. Three senses of phallic food here: penises as food; foodstuffs that resemble penises (either naturally, or by accident); foodstuffs that are fashioned to look like penises. I’ve posted often about the last two types, but the first is new on this blog.


Context context context; and variation

September 26, 2015

Back in March, Luc Vartan Baronian posted on Facebook this semantics argument between his two children:

Daughter (4): I love my piggy bank.
Son (7): You mean your froggy bank?
Daughter: No! My piggy bank.
Son: But it’s a froggy, so it should be a froggy bank.
Daughter: No. It’s STILL a piggy bank.

Yesterday, Luc (recalling my immersion in penguiniana) sent this on to me, asking me if I had a penguin bank. My answer was fairly complex, though basically I spoke in favor of Luc’s daughter’s position.


Ruthie vs. N + N compounds

September 24, 2015

A recent One Big Happy, with Ruthie and monkey bread:


At issue is the N + N compound monkey bread.



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