Cartoon cereals

December 12, 2018

In today’s Zits, Jeremy enjoys the Swiss Army knife, the Dagwood sandwich, of breakfast cereals:

No need to choose; it’s got everything you might want, all in one package.

The king of breakfast-cereal comic strips is, of course, Calvin and Hobbes. See my 9/1/18: posting “Subscendence by sugar bomb”, with 4 strips on Calvin and sugary cereals.

 

Meaty faggots

December 12, 2018

My friend Aric was astonished yesterday to come across this food product:

Pork me: a classic presentation of faggots, in a brown gravy, accompanied by peas and mashed potatoes

No doubt he would find the following news bulletin (from Wikipedia) remarkable:

The “nose-to-tail eating” trend has resulted in greater demand for faggots in the 21st century.

Aric is American and gay, so of course pork faggots — being British and devoid of sexual associations (beyond those attending on any sort of meatball) —  are neither familiar nor salient to him.

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Smoke from an island

December 11, 2018

An anaphoric island. The smoke signalling another Page on this blog for anaphoric islands. Created back on 5/27/15, an Anaphoric islands Page, with links to postings about anaphoric islands (like this one). Now, today, a new Page with examples of them.

Today’s example was distributed to an informal group of anaphoric islanders (we collect the things — hey, it’s an innocent hobby) by one of our number, Larry Horn, who noted it back in the 1970s. Out of context, it’s a real challenge to interpret:

(1) I don’t think that non-smokers should have to put up with people who do

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Notes on PSP = PST

December 11, 2018

Follow-ups to my posting “A vernacular construction?” yesterday, about expressions like had went and had ran, non-standard counterparts to standard had gone and had run, respectively — which Ben Yagoda has characterized, misleadingly, as exemplifying vernacular constructions involving the inflectional category PST rather than the standard category PSP. Instead, I maintained, the constructions in question call for the PSP, period, but in some vernacular varieties, the PSP forms of some verbs are pronounced the same as the corresponding PST forms (while in the standard language these forms are phonologically distinct).

My posting noted that the vernaculars here extended an already very strong generalization, PSP = PST — that the PSP form is pronounced the same as the PST — so that it applies to almost all verbs, and a Facebook commenter emphasized the greater regularity of the resulting system vis-a-vis the standard array of forms. All true, but critics of non-standard varieties still manage to use these facts to disparage speakers of these varieties.

And then it occurred to me that Ben was viewing expressions like had went and had ran as if he had produced them himself, in which case they’d be inadvertent errors, substitutions of one inflectional category (PST) for another (PSP). But the expressions need to be seen from the viewpoint of the varieties they occur in — and there, they simply involve phonological realizations of the inflectional category PSP.

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Understanding Bizarro

December 10, 2018

Today’s Wayno/Piraro Bizarro, requiring a crucial piece of cultural knowledge:


(#1)(If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 2 in this strip — see this Page.)

The figure of Batman is the easy part of understanding this cartoon; asking the waiter for “the insect steward” is the part that draws heavily on background knowledge: that bats primarily eat insects, and that high-end restaurants will offer the services of a sommelier, or wine steward, to its diners. So we are asked to see Batman simultaneously as an upper-class man (Bruce Wayne) ordering food in an elegant restaurant (admittedly, in a bat costume) and as an actual bat, a predator seeking its prey.

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Grass-fed beef

December 10, 2018

Annals of hypallage, food-source division. In a 1/30/17 New Yorker cartoon by P.C. Vey:

Contemplating the nightmare that bedevils animal rights activists: force-feeding creatures to prepare them for human consumption.

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A vernacular construction?

December 10, 2018

Ben Yagoda on the Chronicle of Higher Education‘s Lingua Franca blog on 12/5/18, “Why Do I Really, Really Want to Say ‘Had Went’?”

… You see what [actor and director Jonah] Hill and [director Bryan] Fogel were doing, grammatically. They were using the preterite (ran, went) instead of the past participle (run, gone). This is by no means a new thing. Writing in 1781, John Witherspoon decried the “vulgarisms” had fell, had rose, had broke, had threw, and had drew.

Such constructions have long flourished in the American vernacular.

Standard English uses the PSP (past participle) form of a verb in the perfect construction and the passive construction (among other places). Ben says that some speakers and writers have different (syntactic) constructions here, using the PST (past, aka preterite — nothing hinges on the name) form instead of the PSP.

I maintain that Ben has seriously misunderstood the phenomenon here, and that Vern, the vernacular variety, doesn’t differ syntactically from Stan, the standard variety, with respect to the forms used in the perfect and the passive; it’s the PSP for both. It’s just that for some verbs, Vern pronounces the PSP differently from Stan; for Vern, the PSP form for these verbs is pronounced the same as their PST.

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Books of the year

December 9, 2018

… in the Economist‘s 12/1 issue,”Books of the year: The big read”, (p. 76), in the Culture category: 6 books selected, including:

The Prodigal Tongue. By Lynne Murphy. Penguin Books; 368 pages; $17. Oneworld, £16.99.

The first and perhaps only book on the merits of American and British English that is dominated by facts and analysis rather than nationalistic prejudice. For all its scholarship, this is also a funny and rollicking read.

And in “The Economist’s journalists unbound: A short hstory of moonlighting: Here are the books our writers published in 2008” (p. 77):

Talk on the Wild Side: The Untameable Nature of Language. By Lane Greene. Economist Books/Hachette; 240 pages; $26. Profile Books: £14.99.

Our Johnson columnist argues that English is a living organism; language rules are often preferences in disguise. “He is open-minded and discerning,” the Spectator said; “no zealot and no snob.”

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News for bears: cities of bears

December 8, 2018

On the 5th here, postings on the patron saint of bears and on Swiss saintly dogs (with a bow to the city of Bern(e)). Now: more on Bern; on the movie BearCity; and on two California cities of bears, Big Bear City in San Bernardino County and Los Osos in San Luis Obispo County.

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O rosemary, my rosemary

December 7, 2018

From Kim Darnell today, a Christmas tree, which she then decorated to suit my household:


(#1) O rosemary, my rosemary

I’d admired these little rosemary bushes at Whole Foods: pretty, wonderfully scented, useful in cooking, and an excellent evergreen container plant for my patio garden (rosemary shrubs are widely used as border and filler plants locally).

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