The Saturday cartoon crop

Three items today: two continuing sequences and a free-standing cartoon.

There’s Zits with Jeremy negotiating with his parents on meaning in context. In earlier cartoons, it was argue (here) and late (here) that were at issue; now it’s disagree:

And there’s a Zippy sequence on the decline of books-as-we-have-known-them, with two strips here (where there are links back to two earlier strips). And now:

Then a Bizarro that’s only tangentially connected to language:

though it will appeal to those looking for phallic symbols.

6 Responses to “The Saturday cartoon crop”

  1. mollymooly Says:

    The Bizarro is an illustration of polysemy. Or perhaps homonymy.

  2. arnoldzwicky Says:

    Ah, mollymooly joins in in finding a linguistic point even where I say the material is (at best) only tangentially related to linguistics. As I said in comments on a previous posting (on Dr. Zwicky’s meat rubs), you can find linguistics in just about anything.

    The case of balloon animal has several points of interest. First, the compound is a “resembloid composite” of the form X + Nhead, in which the Nhead doesn’t have its usual denotation (N), but instead denotes something merely resembling an N in some way. So, balloon animal doesn’t denote an animal (somehow related to balloons), but instead denotes a simulacrum of an animal constructed from balloons, or (in a further step) a simulacrum of an object, not necessarily an animal, constructed from balloons. So animal in balloon animal is apparently polysemous, used for both animal-simulacra in particular (a snake-simulacrum, for instance) and object-simulacra in general (a cucumber-simulacrum or penis-simulacrum, for instance).

    Now, what’s going on with animal used for various different simulacra (cucumbers, hot dogs, penises, etc.) is something different. This is just vagueness, or underspecification (there are several other terms out there).

    There are then three concepts here: (semantic) ambiguity (a.k.a. homonymy); polysemy; and (semantic) vagueness. The lines between these can be hard to draw; there’s a huge literature on the distinctions and their analysis.

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