Archive for January, 2012

The appearance of Xing

January 31, 2012

Walter Stuart wrote to the NYT’s “Metropolitan Diary” yesterday about an encounter in Madison Square Park in which a park official treated the appearance of Xing as equivalent to Xing for the purposes of park regulations:


Noun pile examples

January 31, 2012

In e-mail to me a few weeks ago, Dee Michel offered this example:

Air bag malfunction safety recall follow-up notice.

This is a noun pile (a.k.a. noun pileup) of length 7: definitely a good find, but not the record. And it’s surprisingly easy to parse (unlike some of the examples that have been reported on Language Log and elsewhere).

Noun pile examples mostly come from three sources: newspaper headlines (especially British ones), bureaucratic headers, as in this case, and labels. Three contexts where people try to cram a whole lot of information into a small space. (Often the result is ambiguous or hard to parse or both.)


A little milestone of sorts

January 31, 2012

Mark Liberman reports that last night (new) Language Log racked up its two millionth spam comment. At about the same time this blog went over the quarter-million mark (already up past 125,600). Whew!


fag food

January 31, 2012

The story starts with a Facebook posting from Ned Deily, who’s currently in Rome:

Fagolosi is a product name, for breadsticks made by the Grissin Bon company of Reggio Emilio. Phallic, and with fag in the name. Gay food. (On gay spaghetti, see here.)


Cartoon 4: Guy advice

January 31, 2012

One last cartoon for today: today’s Zits, on man talk:

Well, it works as coaching on golf. And maybe as sex counseling. But on coping with, say, car problems?

Cartoon 3: Snowman up!

January 31, 2012

Today’s Rhymes With Orange, with a phrasal overlap portmanteau:

Get with the snowmasculinity program, dude!

(Links to Ben Zimmer’s writing on the slang idiom man up here. Notes on the gay porn flick Man Up here.)

Cartoon 2: Homonym Vampire

January 31, 2012

Another cartoon from Canada: a Rock, Paper, Cynic linguistic vampire cartoon:


Cartoon 1: What kills people

January 31, 2012

A big crop of cartoons today. The first is from Horne & Comeau’s A Softer World (information on the webcomic here), under the title “Education”:

(Hat tip to Paul Armstrong.)

The cartoon combines the NRA bumper-sticker slogan “Guns don’t kill people, people do” (or “… people kill people”) with Pope Benedict’s recent  pronouncement (on January 9th) on same-sex marriage:

Pope Benedict said … that gay marriage was one of several threats to the traditional family that undermined “the future of humanity itself.”

Yes, the news from Rome: same-sex marriage will kill the human race.

The NRA slogan has been much played on, on t-shirts, posters, bumper stickers, and the like; just google on {“guns don’t kill people”}. A small sampling of continuations of “Guns don’t kill people”:

I kill people

… Bullets do. Guns just get the bullets going really fast.

… Liberals against conceal-carry laws kill people.

… well, this one may [image of gun with muzzle reversed, pointing at the shooter]

… Chuck Norris does [Norris is a prominent NRA supporter]

… People with mustaches kill people

… Cupcakes with mustaches kill people!

… Whacked on meth-head kittens do. [image of kitten aiming gun]

… Dick Cheney kills people [allusion to Cheney’s hunting accident]

… Zombies do.

… Black people kill people. [image of Samuel L. Jackson with a gun]

… Dangerous minorities do!

… OJ kills people

… But they can sure speed up the process. It can take an hour to choke a bitch.

… Cats do. [image of cat with a gun]

… Gaping holes in vital organs do.

… Husbands that come home early do.

… Crazy motherfuckers kill people

… Supervillains kill people

… Drug cartels armed by our government kill people.

… Dads with pretty daughters kill people.

… Drivers with cell phones do

… The government does.

… “Pro-lifers” with guns kill people

… Vincent Price does

… rappers do

… Little fairies throw the bullets

… Ninjas do

… Kids who play videogames kill people.

… lolcats kill people. [yet another armed cat]

(and then more distant variations, like: “Dogs don’t kill people. Stupid owners with stupid breeds kill people.”)

Moose retrieval headline

January 30, 2012

This initially puzzling headline from the Anchorage Daily News was passed on by Chris Waigl this morning:

Suspended road-kill moose retrieval renewed, expands

Screenshot in case the paper changes the story:


erection enhancer

January 30, 2012

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, a gift idea for a man in your life, from Out magazine for February 2012, p. 86:

Forget the classic cock ring: the incoqnito Smoke Ring is made of a dozen quartz beads (rumored to stimulate the libido) that come strung on knotted elastic to make for an adjustable erection enhancer – or attractive piece of jewelry. $65:

Erection enhancer is the linguistic point I want to focus on.