Today’s Bizarro:

A play on the uses of the suffix -ese.

Michael Quinion’s Affixes site gives two primary uses for -ese forming adjectives and nouns:

(a) those denoting “an inhabitant or language of a city or country”, or more broadly, denoting something associated with a city or region or country: Cantonese, Japanese, Maltese, Nepalese, Taiwanese, Vietnamese, Viennese … Some glossonym (language-name) uses are clearly nouns (She spoke in Cantonese; He learned Japanese in a month), while some toponym (place-name) uses are clearly (pseudo-)adjectives (a Japanese fan, Viennese coffee), and other examples are harder to characterize. (This is a rich field for investigation.)

(b) as common nouns that

are often derogatory, referring in particular to written language from a given source that is considered to be in a poor style: journalese, officialese (and bureaucratese), legalese, novelese (a style of writing supposedly characteristic of inferior novels). New examples continue to be formed: computerese (the supposedly incomprehensive technical jargon of computing), jargonese. A rare example that is not derogatory is motherese (child-directed speech).

The Bizarro cartoon has legalese as in (b), but with the syntax of a glossonym as in (a). It goes both ways.

2 Responses to “-ese”

  1. Mar Rojo Says:

    EFLese: http://nti.educa.rcanaria.es/tea/TEAM1/24.pdf

  2. Bring in an expert! | Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] my recent cartoon posting on legalese, John Lawler was reminded of this cartoon by John […]

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