Cyanide and Happiness roundup

Five strips from the webcomic Cyanide and Happiness, with various points of linguistic interest (some incidental to the humor of the strip).

(Information about the webcomic in this posting, which is otherwise about everyone/everybody and his/their X.)

Thumb war (and masturbation).

Thumb war is a resembloid compound: the practice is a competition, and competitions are like wars. Thumb war is a metaphorical war WITH or BY thumbs:

A thumb war or thumb wrestling is a children’s game played by two players in a tournament called a thumb-a-war (or thumb war) using the thumbs to simulate fighting. The object of the game is to pin the opponent’s thumb, often to a count of three. The San Francisco Chronicle called the game “the miniature golf of martial sports.”

… The game is typically initiated with both the players uttering the rhyme “One, two, three, four, I declare a thumb war”, and their thumbs passing over each other in time with this rhyme. The rhyme is sometimes extended with “Five, six, seven, eight, try to keep your thumb straight.” Variations of the second half of the rhyme include ” Five, six, seven, eight, you are stupid, I am great. ” and “Five six seven eight, You are going down mate. ” (link)

The C&H strip has a non-standard second rhyme, introducing the topic of masturbation. (C&H is often about sex.) Incidentally, most people have a preferred hand for masturbation. The JackinWorld website (“The ultimate male masturbation resource”) assumes that the masturbation hand is the dominant hand, as in this discussion:

What is your favorite position to masturbate in?

Notes: Between 80% and 90% of those responding favor lying in bed on one’s back or sitting in a chair in front of a computer or TV. The availability of Internet pornography has driven many right-handed people to shift to using their left hand for masturbation to leave the right one free to maneuver the mouse. Other positions for masturbating included lying on one’s stomach while humping a pillow or mattress, hanging upside-down, masturbating in front of a mirror, standing (usually in a shower), and with legs over the head to maneuver the genitals closer to the person’s face.

But many right-handers use the left hand for masturbation — left-handed jacking off is way more common in gay porn than the incidence of left-handedness in the population — and in some cultures the left hand is prescribed for masturbation as well as wiping the anus, since the right hand is prescribed for eating. (The left hand is then the “dirty hand”.)

More sex, and uses of the present tense.

The patient reports a recurring problem that is relevant these days — a “habitual” use of the present tense. But the doctor takes him to be reporting a problem of the moment — an “immediate” use of the present tense.

Grammar Nazi.

Grammar Nazi is a snowclonelet composite, an instance of the pattern X Nazi/nazi. (Discussion on this blog here and here, with links to Language Log and other discussions.) In the C&H strip, the soldier turns out to be a Grammar Nazi *and* a real Nazi.

Texting abbreviation and GenX so.

A visual abbreviation treated as an acronym. And in the last panel, an instance of GenX so. (Some discussion on this blog here and here.)

Beer drinking and verbing.

In the third panel, the verbing of the compound peer pressure. Some other verbings of compound nouns on this blog: spit-bath (here), catwalk (here), guinea pig (here).

A great many occurrences of this verbing on the net. Here’s one in the active and one in the passive:

They peer pressured me into going, but I told them I would only go if they carried my skis up the hill. (link)

Poll: When were you peer-pressured to do something bad? (link)


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