Archive for April, 2012

No word for hot flashes in Japanese?

April 25, 2012

Victor Steinbok has been collecting “no words for X” claims recently; here’s a find in Japanese:

To regain a sense of control over your body take the following steps: become an informed consumer, consider experimenting with lifestyle changes, and connect with a qualified physician who shares your view that perimenopause is not a disease, but a transition from one phase of our lives to another. Each woman experiences this time in her own way. It is interesting how differently women in other cultures experience these times. For example, Japanese women report fewer menopausal symptoms, and have no word for hot flashes. It is suspected that this may in part be related to their high consumption of soy-containing foods. (link)

Victor noted that hot flashes actually isn’t a word in English, but a two-word phrase; that the implication of the piece is that there’s no concept of ‘hot flashes’ in Japanese; and that “it may also be that the unidentified author is simply misinformed”. I was immediately suspicious of the claim, and consulted Yoshiko Matsumoto, who is not only a Japanese linguist but also the editor of Faces of Aging: The Lived Experiences of the Elderly in Japan (Stanford Univ. Press, 2011).


A Zitsmanteau

April 25, 2012

Today’s Zits, in which Jeremy commits a portmanteau:

Several of the strips I follow regularly are given to portmanteaus — Rhymes With Orange and Bizarro, in particular — but that’s not usually Zits‘s territory. Here, Jeremy intends messay as a smog-type portmanteau (something that is both X and Y), while his mother interprets it as a telescoping portmanteau (as messy essay).

doing X

April 24, 2012

Found by Victor Steinbok on Google+:

Heart-warming though the sentiments are, my interest here is in the syntax: the all-purpose verb do and its wide range of complements. The ten complements illustrated here — seven NPs, two AdjPs, and a quotation — are none of them established idioms with do, though they can all be seen as instances of a recent pattern.

Then some words about the versatility of do and about do drag.


Me no likie?

April 23, 2012

Ann Burlingham wrote me on March 28th about an on-line argument about the expression me no likie, which she saw as racist (based on a stereotype of Asian English), but which others defended as childish language (as the sort of thing their 3-year-old niece says, and the like), some citing Urban Dictionary, which attributes the expression to the animated tv comedy The Family Guy. Other discussions cited Gullah [Sea Island Creole] and Jamaican Creole, and some writers saw me no likey X as an annoying webism:

Which demon-spawn, script-kiddie coined this baby-talk phrase, which I see plastered all over UBB systems every week? Who is he and what’s his address, because I’m going to beat him to death with a Nerf Bat. (link)

which brings us back to baby-talk.

This is a case in which everyone might be right, to some extent. We’re dealing with what we might think of as “imperfect English”, which can arise in several different contexts — child language acquisition, adult language learning, language contact — but can also deployed in intentional mockery of the English used in those contexts, either playfully or disparagingly.


Cartoon potatoes

April 23, 2012

Today’s Rhymes With Orange:

A lot of political and culinary history here.


Dilbert 2: engineers and knowledge workers

April 22, 2012

Another Dilbert strip (from 2/4/96), this time with our office hero confronted by his mother (as he often is):

After one evasion and three “I don’t know”s, Dilbert’s claim to knowledge (as in knowledge worker) is severely damaged. Of course, that’s a specialized sense of knowledge.

It’s especially telling that Dilbert doesn’t know what the acronym for the project he’s working on stands for. Probably few people on the project do.

Dilbert 1: managerspeak

April 22, 2012

The first of two old Dilberts I’ve recently come across. This one (from 11/14/93) about Dilbert’s response to the annual performance review:

Dilbert wields managerspeak like a pro here, and takes a bow for his, um, performance. As far as I can see, none of the managerspeak is necessary, and much of it is merely ornamental.

In the last panel, Dilbert responds, not directly to the question his boss asks (which is a straightforward yes-no question), but to a presupposition of the question, which is that the boss doesn’t know whether Dilbert’s performance was sarcastic in intent.

The drag news for linguists

April 22, 2012

What a drag, the saying goes. To judge from the reviews, Adam Sandler in a dress in Jack and Jill is quite a drag, and not in a good way; some reviewers have suggested that Sandler’s performance might bring an end to the fine tradition of cross-dressing movies. But this isn’t a movie blog, or at least not mostly one. So on to the language stuff.



April 22, 2012

Over on AZBlogX, I’ve just posted a set of seven “bookend” images of men: side-by-side related images. All of those are racy to some degree, but here’s one from my source for these things (Chris Ambidge) that is innocuous:

Not about language — but possibly about gender roles. Mostly, it’s just weekend silliness.

(Note that the blonde woman has the white frosting and the brunette the chocolate frosting. And that their aprons are similar. Nice pairing.)


On AZBlogX

April 22, 2012

Last week on my X blog: another chapter in a long series of postings on absurd underwear for men: three total-exposure garments from Undergear.

And today, a piece taking off from a high-phallicity faux-Norman Rockwell painting set in a home chemistry lab: “Chemistry, phallicity, and (anti-)Rockwellism”.