Archive for April, 2012

Dairy humor

April 30, 2012

Noticed on the street in Palo Alto a few days ago, a delivery truck for Clover Stornetta Farms (in Sonoma County) with a Mount Rushmooer billboard on its side. (I haven’t been able to find an image on-line, but you can imagine a cross between Mount Rushmore and cows.) It turns out that the dairy has been producing these comic billboards since its founding in the 1970s; a sampling can be found on the website.


Annals of French taboo avoidance

April 29, 2012

From a NYT Magazine article of April 15th on the French presidential race (“The Soft Middle of François Hollande” by Steven Erlanger:

Campaigning at Paris’s Agricultural Salon, where the urbane [Nicolas] Sarkozy always looks out of place and once famously lost his temper, telling a heckler, “Get lost, you poor idiot,” except in more profane terms, Hollande looked content among the farmers, chickens, goats and cows.

Erlanger could have said “cursing out a heckler” or something of that sort, but instead he chose to report Sarkozy’s curse indirectly. I guessed that the first part was Va te faire foutre ‘go fuck yourself, fuck off’; then there are several possibilities for ‘you poor idiot’, including the plain tu pauvre idiot.

But no. It turns out that what Sarkozy said to the heckler in 2008 (video here) was

Casse-toi, alors, pauv’ con!

(with pauv’ for pauvre)

The first part is merely slangy for ‘get lost, get the hell out of here’, but the second part, with the tricky noun con, is the piece that offended; in the context, ‘asshole’ would not be a bad translation.


The world of grammar

April 29, 2012

Passed on by Paul Armstrong on Facebook, this illustration from the Grammarly site:

This is to accompany Stephen Watkins Clark’s A Practical Grammar: in which Words, Phrases, and Sentences are Classified According to their Offices, and their Relation to Each Other. Illustrated by a Complete System of Diagrams (1847).


Puntoon for the weekend

April 29, 2012

Yesterday’s Bizarro:

Snowman is an island entire of itself; each snowman
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a snowball be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as a manor of thy friends or of thine
own were; snowman’s death diminishes me,
because I am involved in snowfall.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the snow melts; it melts for thee.

Two remarks on reversals

April 28, 2012

Following up on my “Reversed CLEAR verbs” posting (with a section on reversed substitute): a remark on motivations for reversal in CLEAR verbs, plus a remark on the spread of reversed substitute in American English: not just sport(s), but also food.


GenXso at 60?

April 27, 2012

From Ben Zimmer, a link to Bugs Bunny in “Rabbit of Seville” (1950), where Bugs says:

Don’t look so perplexed.
Why must you be vexed?
Can’t you see you’re next?
Yes, you’re next.
You’re so next!

(the relevant portion of the video is 1:55-2:05). You’re so next! ‘You’re really next!’ looks like what I’ve called GenXso, but well before the OED‘s first cite for it (1979).


Reversed CLEAR verbs

April 27, 2012

While doing one of my many daily Google searches, a pop-up software ad appeared on my screen, advising me:

Please consider cleaning your Mac from junk. (link)

My first reading was that I had some junk, and this software would clean my Mac out of it. But, wait, that can’t be right! This must mean that I have a Mac, and this software will clean junk out of it. That’s what I’d say as

Please consider cleaning junk from your Mac.

with junk as DO (direct object) and your Mac as PO (prepositional object). The ad has the two NP arguments reversed in function.


A Liberian puzzle

April 26, 2012

Yesterday on ADS-L, Amy West reported

a sign by the front door of a triple-decker house in our neighborhood that says

Do not throw cigarette nuts on the ground.

Amy thought that cigarette nuts was an eggcorn — not previously reported, as it turns out — for cigarette butts. But things might be more complex than that.


Fun with spelling errors

April 26, 2012

Passed along by Bert Vaux on Facebook, a link to a Buzzfeed piece on the “Top 10 Most Unforgivable Twitter Spelling Mistakes” by Matt Stopera. Most unforgivable — and most entertaining — because for the most part they replace one spelling with the spelling of another existing word (in the most entertaining cases, a word pronounced quite differently from the target word, as in #4, college > collage (“I Can’t Wait For Collage”).


Penguin cats

April 26, 2012

(Not much about language. Mostly just silliness.)

Via Aric Olnes on Facebook, this cat composition: