Archive for the ‘Spelling’ Category

How do you spell /fæp/?

September 16, 2014

The story so far concerns three items pronounced /fæp/:

(fæp-1) an exclamation of annoyance, similar to drat!

(fæp-2) an onomatopetic expression, representing the sound of vigorous male masturbation

(fæp-3) a verb meaning ‘to masturbate vigorously’ (of a man)

(The first is discussed here, the others on 9/10 here, where the second is taken to be the source of the third, and on 9/11 here, about the second.)

How do we spell these items? As far as I can tell, the first has only the simplest available spelling, FAP, but the sexual items show variation between FAP and FAPP. What to make of this?

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homographs

September 9, 2014

Yesterday’s Bizarro:

 

The technical-sounding terms homophone, homograph, and homonym are used in different ways by different people, but the cartoon illustrates one clear case where homograph is certainly useful: same spelling, different pronunciation (and different meaning, so clearly different lexical items). Here, the spelling BASS and the pronunciations /bæs/ (referring to a kind of fish) and /bes/ (referring in this case to a musical instrument, the bass guitar). Fishing for guitars.

Birthday presents

September 8, 2014

Among the presents for my birthday (on the 6th): a penguin, a spelling Owl, an Archie comic, and a rainbow cake. (At least one more to come, in a future posting.)

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haloumi

August 23, 2014

From my recent posting “Dubious disavowals?”, in a description of the offerings of the Welsh food truck Dirty Bird Fried Chicken:

The menu … features items such as the Dirty Hippy Burger with fried Haloumi, Chilli Slaw, Red Onion, Mayo, Hot Sauce and a pickled cucumber in a toasted brioche bun.

The erratic capitalization is entertaining, but my focus here is on the ingredient haloumi, a kind of cheese.

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Nineveh

June 19, 2014

It started fairly simply, with a BBC radio news report from Iraq (heard from I don’t know which source; BBC news comes to me from several places, including BBC3 more or less directly): a bulletin from the Assyrian city of Nineveh, which the news reader pronounced as

(1) /ˈnajn@vˌe/

instead of what I expected to be

 (2) /ˈnɪn@və/

(where @ in the middle syllable represents a neutral unaccented vowel, ɪ or ə — usually transcribed ɪ, as in Wikipedia, though I sometimes hear ə).

I was, in fact, so astounded by the /aj/ in the first syllable of (1) that I failed to take notes on its source; I’d never heard anything but /ɪ/ in this syllable, and /aj/ is not even remotely like the vowel in the Assyrian pronunciation of the place name. Where would it come from?

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Five for Friday

May 18, 2014

Five items, several of which lead to more complex topics: a Harry Bliss cartoon that I caught, reprinted, in the Funny Times for May; a Zippy on art forgery; a One Big Happy with a kid eggcorn; a Zits with alliteration and rhyme (and the sexual marketplace); and a Rhymes With Orange on consonants and vowels.

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My Hobby Comics

March 24, 2014

Some bounty from the Stanford Linguistics in the Comics freshman seminar, a collection of xkcd cartoons with subheaded metatext “My Hobby”, searched out by Kyle Qian. Kyle found about 1,300 xkcd cartoons online, 36 of them subheaded this way, and he posted 7 of them with discussion. (I’ll put off posting about his comments until he gives me permission. The cartoons are in some sense public, but Kyle’s analysis is certainly not.)

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Spelling confusion

March 11, 2014

Today’s Pearls Before Swine:

 

The phase/faze spelling confusion is covered in lots of usage handbooks and manuals — for example Paul Brians, here. I’m pretty sure that the cartoonist was aiming for faze here.

Snarky spelling and punctuation

October 14, 2013

Three e-cards. The first is one in a long series illustrating the perils of going without punctuation — in this case, without commas that mark off syntactic constituents (in a way that receives expression in speech as well as on the page):

(#1)

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No scatting

August 20, 2013

From yesterday’s “Metropolitan Diary” in the NYT”, “At Kerouac’s Old Place, No Scatting Allowed”, by Carol Knauder:

I love the unintentional typo of the sign in the courtyard of my sister’s West Village apartment building, where it’s rumored Jack Kerouac once lived.

Taken at face value, though, I do wonder why a no scatting zone would be necessary in this day and age. I then imagine under the sign an illustration of Ella Fitzgerald scatting inside a “No” symbol — a circle and a diagonal red line through the picture — stifling her singing “Bu di di bi bu bi dibi…” from “How High the Moon.”

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