Monday language comics

Two Monday comics on linguistic topics: a Calvin and Hobbes with an unfortunate ambiguity (pitch the tent), and a Zits with a portmanteau for a combo sport (dodgebowl):



Pitch the tent. The etymological source for the verb has a cluster of meanings in the domain ‘thrust, throw’: note the current senses in pitch a baseball and pitch an idea to the boss, and these two from NOAD2:

2 [with obj.] throw or fling roughly or casually: he crumpled the page up and pitched it into the fireplace. [with a further extension in slang: throw away, discard]

5 [with obj.] set up and fix in a definite position: we pitched camp for the night.

These are the senses in #1: the scoutmaster intended sense 5, Calvin understood it as sense 2, possibly because extended sense 2 is quite general, applying to a wide range of direct objects, while sense 5 has much tighter collocational restrictions: you can pitch a tent, or pitch camp, and that’s pretty much it (these are simply listed as idioms in many dictionaries).

Bonus on pitch tent. There’s a (metaphorical) sexual sense ‘have an erection that shows through covering, esp. while lying down so that the sheet above you stands up like a tentpole’. From a (wildly hyperbolic) site with fictional athletes to appeal to female readers:

Ladies meet Vincent QB#1 Panty Dropper Delgado: Every teen movie has the hot QB-ONE who balls hard day and night. That character was invented by Vince’s life. He has that smile that makes the bros nod and hoes wet. He is a 9 time All American. He’s been married four times and been through divorce twice. He owns 3 houses on every continent. He benches 275 lbs when he’s cutting and runs a 3.6 sec 40 yard dash with a weight vest underwater with a single breath. He has a childhood video of him dunking a basket ball the first time he ever tried (which was the second time he ever jumped when he was 8). The first girlfriend he ever had was a married Victoria Secret model. When the model’s husband found out, he divorced the model without giving a reason. The next week he tried proposing to Vince.

Here are some pictures of Vince that are just definitive proof that he is number one. He is a whole package for anyone who likes a BIG package. No homo. Just mad respect.

Look ladies he is outdoorsy. He can go camping and hike and pitch a tent for you and carry your back pack and make fires and shit.

Vincent pitching a tent:


And a further bonus, Vince shirtless:


Dodgebowl. That’s dodgeball + bowling, a portmanteau name for a combination sport/game (or double-sport, as some sites have it), apparently involving dodging bowling balls. Definitely a sport for the hardy.

Not surprisingly, there’s a (moderately snarky) BuzzFeed site (from 12/11/13) “10 Combination Sports You Need To Try Today”. It’s a mixed bag:

bicycle jousting, unicycle hockey, korfball [netball (Swedish ringboll) + basketball; Dutch korf ‘basket’], chess boxing, polocrosse, Segway polo, disc golf [frisbee golf], gravy wrestling, lawn mower racing, basketball derby [“there are no rules”]

Most of these are N + N compounds, and these mix cases where sports / games / pasttimes are combined (chess boxing, bicycle jousting, disc golf), with cases (unicycle hockey, Segway polo, lawn mower racing) where sports are played with non-standard equipment (plus gravy wrestling, involving wrestling in gravy, which I suppose you could consider a sport with non-standard equipment). There’s one entirely clear case of a portmanteau naming a combined sport: polocrosse (polo + lacrosse). Plus the Zits dodgebowl.

It turns out that there is a moderately popular phys-ed class team sport in the U.S. (grades 3 to 7, roughly) known as dodge-bowl or dodgebowl — but it involves foam bowling balls, not real, heavy, ones, as in Zits.



One Response to “Monday language comics”

  1. chrishansenhome Says:

    In my hometown, Marblehead, Mass. there is a saying common amongst the older set (which now includes me): “To hell I pitch this!” I think it’s self-explanatory, but there don’t seem to be any Google hits.

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