Archive for January, 2014

Lunar New Year design

January 31, 2014

Not about language.

From among hundreds of designs for the Year of the Horse, this is the one I chose to send to friends today:

Graphic novels and books

January 31, 2014

From Norma Mendoza-Denton, this Washington Post story of 12/31/13, “The trial balloon: O teachers, after a banner year for graphic novels, don’t ban these books”, by Michael Cavna.

A list of excellent graphic novels of 2013, set off by an anecdote about a grade-schooler who was reading a memoir when a teacher asked accusingly what it was. Then:

“It’s a graphic novel,” came the girl’s reply. Such works, the girl was told, were unacceptable for classroom “reading time,” let alone for a book report. The teacher’s sharp ruling boiled down to a four-word excuse for banishment: “Graphic. Novels. Aren’t. Books.”



Canine portmanteaus

January 31, 2014

From Kim Darnell, a link to this HuffPo piece,”These 19 Adorably Awkward Mixed Breed Dogs Will Make You Love Mutts Even More” by Amanda Scherker on 1/29/14. In the tradition of established mixed breeds like the labradoodle and cockapoo come more, mostly with portmanteau names to go along with the breed crossing.


by the each

January 31, 2014

Passed on by Ken Rudolph on Facebook, this image from the Bro My God website:


As Chris Ambidge noted on Facebook, by the each is something of a surprise, though it turns out that there are other examples in commercial settings. Normally you’d expect just each or apiece, or per item. At least one site suggests that it might be a calque on an idiom in another language.


Superhero dining

January 31, 2014

Today’s Bizarro:


So Batman, like a good bat, orders insects, while Robin orders the worm: the early bird gets the worm. Proverbs rule.

Penguin New Year

January 30, 2014

From Victor Steinbok, a link to this photo:

Caption: Penguins wearing a Chinese outfit (L) and a bib written ‘happiness’ in Chinese character (R) walk to celebrate the Lunar New Year at Hakkeijima Sea Paradise amusement park in Yokohama, suburb of Tokyo.

It’s the Year of the Horse, starting on the 31st.


January 30, 2014

Yesterday’s Bizarro, in a truncated version:


This is funny as it stands, but it takes a considerable amount of pop-cultural knowledge to comprehend. The keys are the reference to motels and to stabbing: Psycho.


Whale oil

January 29, 2014

Passed on by Larry Selinker on Facebook, this t-shirt purporting to be in “Irish” — well, Irish English:

Well I’ll be fucked.


xkcd vocabulary

January 28, 2014

A recent xkcd:

I was about to post on this one, but Mark Liberman got to it first, yesterday, under the title “A stick tower by any other name”, where he wrote:

Mouseover title: “Stay warm, little flappers, and find lots of plant eggs!”

An amusing reminder of a serious issue: most compounds and phrasal collocations are used in ways that are consistent with their compositional meaning, but not entirely predictable from it. “Solar cell” doesn’t mean “tanning bed”; “drainage basin” doesn’t mean “mop bucket”; “forest canopy” doesn’t mean “camping tent”; etc.

The frequent failure of perfect compositional semantics in composite expressions (both N + N and Adj + N) is a persistent theme on this blog.

More Reading PA

January 28, 2014

My cousin Eleanor Houck points me to artwork by her son Rich (so, my first cousin once removed), who has a studio in downtown Reading PA.; website here. Interesting work in several media, including some pieces of local interest (nostalgic for me), like this painting of the Penn St. Bridge (over the Schuylkill River):

Going east over the bridge, into Reading. The tall building is the Courthouse, and that’s Mount Penn in the background.

Earlier posting with a dowtown view from 1941, here.