The New Yorker on subsectivity

Michael Maslin in the latest (May 25th) New Yorker:


(You need to recognize from the setting that the creature the cowboy is faced with is a so-called prairie dog — not any kind of dog, but instead a kind of ground squirrel.)

The echo of “I’m not that kind of girl” adds to the humor.

So the compound prairie dog is not subsective — a prairie dog is not a dog (of any kind, despite what the prairie dog in the cartoon says) — but instead is resembloid. Now, you’ll note that prairie dogs don’t look much like dogs; apparently, the resemblance to dogs is in their warning call, which sounds like a dog’s bark.

The story is more detail, from Wikipedia:

Prairie dogs (genus Cynomys) are mostly herbivorous burrowing rodents native to the grasslands of North America. The five different species of prairie dogs are: black-tailed, white-tailed, Gunnison’s, Utah, and Mexican prairie dogs. They are a type of ground squirrel, found in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

… Prairie dogs are named for their habitat and warning call, which sounds similar to a dog’s bark. … Its genus, Cynomys, derives from the Greek for “dog mouse”.


Black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus) at Smithsonian National Zoological Park in Washington, D.C.

Michael Maslin. The cartoonist is new to this blog, but not to the New Yorker. Here’s his charming account on his web page:

Born in New Jersey, I was raised in Bloomfield, a bedroom community a half hour due west of Manhattan. In high school, I drew a short-lived comic strip “Our Table” which followed the imaginary exploits of fellow students. Readership was limited to those sitting around me at our lunchroom table. About this time, I first submitted work to The New Yorker, and soon received my first rejection.

In August of 1977 the magazine purchased one of my ideas. It was given to and executed by veteran cartoonist Whitney Darrow Jr.  ( the drawing, of a fortune teller saying to a customer, “Nothing will ever happen to you”  appeared in the issue of December 26, 1977). I began contributing regularly to The New Yorker in 1978 – my first drawing appeared in the April 17th issue.

In 1988 I married fellow New Yorker cartoonist, Liza Donnelly. We and our two children live in New York.

… In August of 2007 I began Ink Spill,  dedicated to news of New Yorker Cartoonists, past and present.

One more from Maslin, in which two senses of court  (court of law and court for ball games) are blended in the image:



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