Dinosaur snowclone

Today’s Dinosaur Comics, in which Ryan North riffs on snowclones and Language Log (the all-caps speaker from above is God, or some equivalent authority, by the way):

(Already noted by Mark Liberman on Llog. Ben Zimmer on meh here, here, and here.)

A point of interest, though, is the locution words for “meh. X is a/the word for Y is normally a relationship between an expression X and a referent (or class of referents) Y: words for the penis (here), words for colors, words for snow. But meh is itself an expression; what would a word for it be? (Word for snow, fine. Word for snow, odd: monosyllable?)

I suppose T-Rex is inquiring about synonyms for meh, rather than words for kinds of meh. (Are there kinds of meh?)

4 Responses to “Dinosaur snowclone”

  1. Greg Stump Says:

    Of course, “X is a/the word for Y” can also be a relationship between words in different languages, e.g. (in French class) “‘de’ is the word for ‘of'” (where there is no question of referents). Maybe T-Rex is contrasting two different stages of English, pre-internet-stuff and post-, as when one asks “What was the Elizabethan word for ‘OK’?” ?

    In other words, it seems like “X is a/the word for Y” can be used with X and Y in an object-language/metalanguage relation or with X and Y as quotations from distinct languages.

  2. Dean Says:

    There’s something rather attractive with attributing statements from Geoff Pullum in the voice of God. Yes, I rather like that.

  3. The Ridger Says:

    It’s definitely God. T-Rex frequently addresses him by name.

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