Archive for December, 2011

The Queen’s Christmas Message

December 20, 2011

Damien Hall on the Variationist List today noted that the Queen’s Christmas Message will soon be upon us, and pointed to research on changes in the Queen’s variety of English over the years, using these broadcast messages as data.

The way the press reported this research is a story in its own right.

(more…)

Wossamotta U

December 20, 2011

Watching an episode of Rocky and Bullwinkle yesterday with my grand-daughter — it’s one of her favorite entertainments — I came across R&B‘s entertaining institution of higher learning,

Wossamotta U — a mondegreen of “what’s the matter [with] you” — is the ninth story arc from the fifth season of Rocky and Bullwinkle (originally titled The Bullwinkle Show). It was broadcast on the NBC network during the 1963–1964 television season.

… The University of Wossamotta was shown as Rocky and Bullwinkle’s alma mater in The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle movie. (link)

R&B is packed with language play. If the kids don’t get it, their parents will.

Concavities

December 20, 2011

My explorations into the vocabulary for parts of the body began with the armpit, a (concave) area or region (or part) of the body that many people would be reluctant to call a bodypart (or body-part or body part) — a topic for another posting. It struck me that the ordinary English vocabulary was poor in words for concavities (though usually there are technical terms in anatomy for these areas), while being rich in words for areas of the body that project (nose, ears, lips, fingers, toes, elbows, knees, nipples, and so on).

Then yesterday Victor Mair posted on Language Log about the area (or web) between the thumb and forefinger, which has a label in Chinese (a metaphorical label Victor translated as “tiger’s maw”), but certainly doesn’t in English.

(more…)

Drone-marry

December 20, 2011

Today’s Scenes From a Multiverse:

Aside from the allusion to a version of the Turing Test, there’s the verb to drone-marry, a play on the back-formed verb to gay-marry (here).

Hunks and their sacks

December 19, 2011

It starts with a Vanity Fair interview with actor Jaleel White:

[interviewer:] In later seasons [of the tv show Family Matters] you were getting quite tall.

[JW:] I was getting network notes on the bulge of my sack! I wore my pants so freaking tight and it was like, after awhile, we got a problem there. So, literally, the last season we loosened up his [his character Urkel’s] pants.

So that’s sack as yet another alternative to euphemistic deal, package, junk, unit, stuff, family jewels, tenders, equipment, and goods (see here, with links to earlier postings).

The link came from Arne Adolfsen, who also offered a photo of a hunk with a moose-knucklish sack: the French actor Alain Delon. Meanwhile, hunky tv actor Victor Webster showed up in an episode of Criminal Minds (playing a charming villain).

(more…)

More Christmas music

December 19, 2011

(Not about language.)

From Don Steiny, a large assortment of Christmas music that’s off the beaten track. He and I had been talking about our dislike for most “holiday music”, and he pointed me to musicians, mostly jazz musicians, who have done good things with many songs, including some — like “Sleigh Ride” and “The Little Drummer Boy” — that I had thought were unredeemable. An inventory follows.

(more…)

Latkepalooza

December 18, 2011

As Hanukkah approaches with great speed, potato pancakes loom; time to start grating those potatoes. And to recognize the local celebrations of Latkepalooza (or LatkePalooza or Latke-palooza): latke + lallapalooza.

(more…)

LOLcats and captions

December 18, 2011

From Corry Wyngaarden va Chris Ambidge, a link to a recording (with slides) of “I can has language play: Construction of Language and Identity in LOLspeak”, a presentation by Jill Vaughan and Lauren Gawne at the Australian Linguistics Society annual conference 2011: a paper on LOLcats as language play and as construction of double identities, as a cat and as a savvy internet user.

The LOLcat genre displays text (usually in a characteristic font) associated with cute cat photos (or in later developments, other photos, as here). Though it’s displayed as a caption, the text, with its language play, is the point.

(more…)

Jargon?

December 16, 2011

Posed as a query to ADS-L by Victor Steinbok on December 13th:

What do cracking, packing, bleaching, hijacking and kidnapping have in common? And I do mean all of them, not selective pairs.

Answer below the fold.

(more…)

More memories

December 16, 2011

In the tradition of my Chicken Verdicchio, Peking on Mystic, and musical memories postings, more recollections of the Boston area in the early 60s. Something of a focus on food and dining, with occasional linguistic interludes.

(more…)