Two linguistics cartoons

… in the latest (9/29/14) New Yorker: a Zach Kanin on writing systems and a Joe Dator with a snow cone snowclone:



In #1, we confront the expectation that examples of early writing are stories, a step beyond telling stories through sequential art, series of pictures that represent stages in a narrative — a step beyond, because the writing encodes words in a language, and those words tell the story, rather than picturing events directly. But in fact much early writing is much less exciting than that, more like to-do lists or shopping lists: notably, inventories of goods in some shipment between people — in effect, bills of lading.

#2 is an elaborate joke on the ur-snowclone, Eskimo N: If Eskimos have N words for snow, X surely have M words for Y (where N and M are numbers and X is the name of a group); Geoff Pullum’s original discussion of Eskimo N was on Language Log in 10/21/03. And on snow cones, see here.

Now on the artists.

On Zach Kanin, from Interview Magazine in 2011:

Plenty of people have already “discovered” comedian Zachary Kanin — people who read The New Yorker, for which Kanin is one of the youngest-ever cartoonists; who perused the Harvard Lampoon when Zach was editor circa 2005; or who happened to notice the New York Times wedding announcements this summer [Christina Eleni Angelides to Zachary Joshua Kanin, both 27 and both Harvard graduates]. Not to mention anyone who bought Kanin’s book, The Short Book, through which Kanin transformed his height (he is 5’3″) into a series of exciting height-orientated facts (if only Napoleon had known there was such a healthy way to channel one’s discontentment with one’s physical stature!)

Kanin hasn’t appeared on this blog before. Here’s one more linguistically oriented strip from him, on attitudes towards “correctness”:


Joe Dator has appeared once before on this blog, on 3/6/14. Information about him on his website, here, with a link to an Inkspill interview with him, “Joe Dator on Drawing Creepy Cat Faces, Cartoon Rubber Ducks and Much Much More”.

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