Cartoons for the weekend

Three language-related cartoons: in order, a Zippy, a Zits, and a Bizarro.

Mr. Toad’s cutified (in quotation marks, note, to signal its ostentatiously innovative character)  — adjective cute + causative/inchoative derivational suffix -ify — exemplifies Zippyworld playfulness with derivational morphology (on which, see, most recently in this precinct, my “creepitude” posting here). Here’s the relevant part of the entry on -fy in Michael Quinion’s affix list, where it’s glossed ‘make or produce; transform into; become’:

Many verbs in this ending exist, formed either from nouns or adjectives. Some examples are amplifycertifydignifyexemplifyhorrifyidentifyliquefy, magnifypacifyratifysatisfystupefytestify, and verify. [AMZ: Note that many of the examples in this list, though historically related to noun or adjective stems (example – exemplify, dignity – dignify, liquid – liquefy, peaceful – pacify) are now not productively related to these sources. The way is then open to “liberate” the derivational suffix and apply it afresh to noun and adjective words (not just stems).]

The ending is in active use, forming verbs both from nouns and adjectives. Because many existing examples contain the linking vowel -i-, its form is usually taken to be -ify rather than -fy.

Verbs are sometimes created with humorous intent, as in trendify, to make trendy or fashionable, and yuppify, to make an area attractive to yuppies; others of similar kind are cutify [right there in Quinion’s list, Mr. Toad]uglify, and youthify.

If the examples I’ve collected (as contributions to Beth Levin’s more extensive lists on verbings with zero, -ize, and -ify) are any indication, the playful innovations appear most commonly in PSP forms (cutefied) and in nominalized versions with -ification (cutification). (My lists include the variant cutesify, which is even cutesier than cutify.]

Now the Zits, in which Jeremy does the stereotypical sullen-teenager wordless thing:

Finally, another Bizarro disquisition on (potential) ambiguity, presented here not in an actual pun, but in the juxtaposition of two different senses of an expression (work for, ‘work to obtain something’ or ‘work in the employ of someone’):


These distinct senses won’t conjoin, except in deliberately joking zeugma: “I’ll work for food but not Daddy Warbucks.”

Remember: Ambiguity Is Everywhere.

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