Cheese or font? The sequel

In the first installment on this topic, I looked at pasttimes presenting players with a disjunctive questions: Is this thing an X or a Y? These questions are framed so that they’ll be taken as involving exclusive disjunction; the answer “both” isn’t offered.

Sometimes this seems reasonable. For X-Face or O-Face?, it’s unlikely (though not impossible) for a guitarist, say, to be expressing great emotional involvement with the music and experiencing sexual climax at the very same moment, so that the answer “both” would very rarely be appropriate. Things are different for Gay or Eurotrash?, and different in another way for Cheese or Font?

It is certainly possible for someone to be both gay and Eurotrash, and in such cases the answer “both” to the question “Is Gilles gay or Eurotrash?”, conveying ‘Gilles is gay and Gilles is Eurotrash’, would be accurate.

(In fact, Gay or Eurotrash? usually doesn’t come with real-world answers, but is played as a game of opinion. For each photograph, a program tots up the judgments given by a number of players and then reports the group opinion. Gay or Metrosexual? is usually played the same way.)

However, for Cheese or Font?, the answer “both” is the right answer in some cases, but that answer doesn’t mean that there is some referent that is both a cheese and a font (hard to imagine what such a thing would be like). Instead, it means that there’s a cheese with some name and there’s also a font with this name; strictly speaking, we’re dealing with homophonous names here.

Romano is a cheese, and Romano is a font — meaning that Romano is the name of a type of cheese and Romano is the name of a type of font. Saying that Romano is both a cheese and a font exploits the very frequent metonymy of name and thing.

Similarly, if there’s a disease and a plant with the same name. (There probably are, but I haven’t yet found them.) A game of Disease or Plant? would then have to admit the answer “both” in this case.

6 Responses to “Cheese or font? The sequel”

  1. Theophylact Says:

    “Coreopsis has set in, Mitty.”

  2. Theophylact Says:

    Or rather (since I misremembered the exact passage),

    “Coreopsis has set in,” said Renshaw nervously. “If you would take over, Mitty?”

  3. arnoldzwicky Says:

    To Theophylact: thanks. I was sure there was at least one Thurber example out there.

    Meanwhile, I’ve been inventing things like “There’s a large expanse of allopecia in front of my house” and “I’m going through a bad bout of agapanthus”.

  4. Theophylact Says:

    It works with the English names of plants, too. Right now I’m suffering from a persistent case of mugwort.

  5. John Cowan Says:

    “I still remember that Emphyteusis is not a disease, nor Stillicide a crime.” –R.L.S., “An Apology for Idlers”

  6. John Cowan Says:

    I suppose you could carve a font out of small blocks of parmesan, or some other hard cheese. Not sure if printers ink would stick, however.

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