Two for Thursday

Two cartoons this morning, a Rhymes With Orange and a Bizarro:



A POP (phrasal overlap portmanteau) on a usage-peeve theme; and borrowed vocabulary put to slangy uses.

The Rhymes. Grammar police dog is a portmanteau of the overhapping N + N compounds grammar police and police dog. The usage point that the dog is enforcing here is the superstition called, variously, No Stranded Prepositions or Dryden’s Rule (after one of its most dogged exponents, John Dryden). A wretched idea that just will not die, despite the writings of all the responsible usage writers.

(Another recent posting on the enforcement of usage prohibitions is the grammar sheriff here, who shoots you dead for using non-standard multiple negation.)

The Bizarro. Rather more complex, involving the items juju and mojo, both with African ceremonial uses, but now adapted to slang use.

juju in Wikipedia:

Juju or Ju-Ju is a word of either West African or French origin used previously by Europeans to describe traditional West African religions. Today it refers specifically to objects, such as amulets, and spells used superstitiously as part of witchcraft in West Africa.

and in NOAD2:

a charm or fetish, esp. of a type used by some West African peoples.
● supernatural power attributed to such a charm or fetish: juju and witchcraft.

But the Online Slang Dictionary gives an extended meaning:

the “magic” of a given plant, liquid or object. It will either help or hinder health, well-being etc.; i.e. the juju can be “good” or “bad.” It is up to a shaman to know what juju to use when. Windows 1998 upgrades are full of bad Juju. [Hence there are uses to mean ‘luck’, either good or bad.]

On to mojo. From NOAD2:

a magic charm, talisman, or spell: someone must have their mojo working over at the record company.
● magic power.
ORIGIN early 20th cent.: probably of African origin; compare with Gullah moco ‘witchcraft.’

You can see extended uses developing here. The Online Slang Dictionary gives a number of these, especially ‘style’ and ‘sex appeal’. (I don’t give the illustrative examples here; OSD entries are offered by users, and these rarely have examples that convey the senses of items in context at all well. After all, the contributors know what the examples mean to them.)

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