Archive for the ‘Words’ Category

No word for it: ‘erectioned’

October 18, 2014

In a discussion on ADS-L recently, the wonderful technical term ithyphallic came up (so to speak), and I realized that this was another case (of many) where English doesn’t have a word for something, in any useful sense of to have a word for.


Coping with the new

June 2, 2014

In today’s One Big Happy, Ruthie and Joe are back on the track of trying to make sense of things they haven’t heard before:


Lots of knowledge needed here — about the words of English and about sociocultural conventions:


Erudite but tailless

May 20, 2014

From an accumulation of material over the years, this Calvin and Hobbes (from 9/14/92):

The strip is “about” Calvin’s lacking a tail, which Hobbes (as a tiger) naturally sees as a defect (while Calvin thinks he’s perfect as he is; it might not be too much to read Calvin’s position as related to male anxiety about penis size).

The point of linguistic interest is Calvin’s sophisticated vocabulary, often remarked on; bear in mind that Calvin is a six-year-old boy, yet he slings things like “the evolutionary perfection of earthly DNA”, “the culmination of creation”, and “aesthetic enhancement” (nicely combined with butt here).

Drew Dernavich

April 19, 2014

A posting by Mark Peters yesterday on the Psychology Today blog, “A Cartoon Maestro Talks Comedy: I interview New Yorker cartoonist Drew Dernavich”

One example of a language-related Dernavich cartoon:


Cat advises dog, using the omnipresent “no word for X” trope.


Dog whistles and more

April 4, 2014

On ADS-L on the 2nd, Geoff Nunberg started a discussion about political language coded for race. The background is dog whistle politics.


Monday quartet

March 31, 2014

Four cartoons today: a Dilbert, a Bizarro, a Mother Goose and Grimm, and a Scenes from the Multiverse:


Triple play

March 30, 2014

Three varied cartoons fot the day: Rhymes With Orange, Pearls Before Swine, Dilbert.


Two Sunday cartoons

February 16, 2014

Two cartoons for today: a Pearls Before Swine on some visual conventions in the comics, and a Dilbert on telling stories, through images and words.


Word counts

January 25, 2014

Over on Language Log, Mark Liberman has repeatedly scathed writers who criticize public figures over their word use, especially 1st person singular pronouns, which they take to be a sign of self-involvement or grandiosity. Mark notes, again and again, that these writers never do actual counts, but instead report their impressions — but Mark does the stats, and again and again finds the impressions flat wrong. Now a report in which someone actually cites the counts.

Via Gregory Ward, this Salon piece of the 24th by Katie McDonough, “President Obama has used the word “gay” in official remarks 272 times since taking office: His predecessor George W. Bush said “gay” twice, once in a speech denouncing marriage equality”.


Who Made That?

January 20, 2014

In the NYT Magazine (on Sunday the 19th), a “Who Made That?” piece by Daniel Engber on the captcha. Some weeks ago, another one of these pieces on laugh tracks on television.



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