Let’s just call it “grammar”

Yesterday’s Rhymes With Orange:

A visit to a theme park with a linguistic theme: it deals, at least, in onomatopoeia (rattle for the sound a rattlesnake’s tail makes), palindromes (expressions that read the same forwards and backwards, like the names Anna and Otto), and portmanteaus (like palindomedary, palindrome + dromedary) and their visual equivalents, like the palindromedary in the cartoon, a nice counterpart to Anna and Otto.

What to call a place that displayed such things — and anagrams and chiasmus and puns and limericks and knock-knock jokes and sports chants and ritualized insults and auctioneers’ patter and damning with faint praise and Cockney rhyming slang and all sorts of culture-specific phenomena that are manifested in a language (in this case, all are manifested in  English) but are not part of the system of that language, the way, say, Subject-Auxiliary Inversion is part of the system of English. Instead, they are things you can do with, or in, the language.

But we have no good word (or other fixed expression) for this rich assortment of language uses and rouitines, so (as in other cases) the poor overworked word grammar is pressed into service. And the theme park is called Grammar Land.

3 Responses to “Let’s just call it “grammar””

  1. Chris Ambidge Says:

    If I recall my Dr Doolittle, that camel-esque creature is technically known as a pushmi-pullyu

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      Yes indeed (though, if I recall correctly, the pushmi-pullyu was llama-based, rather than camel-based).

      I brooded for some time about whether to add the pushmi-pullyu to the posting, but then in a hurry to get on with a crowded day, I decided against it. Possibly unwisely.

  2. Bob The Scientist Says:

    Otto and Ana are the stars in the film Los amantes del círculo polar by Julio Medem which is just lovely. The palindromic names reflect the film’s theme.

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