Archive for May, 2019

The videographer

May 22, 2019

It came to me via Google Alert last week, another creative Zwicky: Denis Zwicky, videographer in Miami. At first, I guessed from his French first name and his fluent but non-native English that he was related to the Zwickys of Wallisellen, outside Zürich, of the Zwicky thread and yarn company and now the Zwicky Areal Facility, an exploration of urban development on the grounds of the thread factory:


(#1) Wallisellen: the old factory and a corner of the new development

Though they’re in German-speaking Switzerland, the younger generations of the family mostly have French names (I’ve written about Joelle); see my 6/27/18 posting “Three Züricher Peter Zwickys”, with a section about “Silk Peter” of the thread company and his four daughters.

But no, far otherwise. As I wrote in yesterday’s posting “Das Wappen”, Denis turned out to be one of the Slavic Zwickys (more in today’s posting “Tsviki from Belarus”). However, I’ll put this personal and family history aside for today, to report on Denis the videographer.

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Tsviki from Belarus

May 22, 2019

As I noted in yesterday’s posting “Das Wappen”, over the years, Zwickys have moved from Canton Glarus not only to all parts of Switzerland, and from Switzerland north and west in Europe (and then further west to the Americas), but also to the east, all the way to the Slavic lands — specifically, to what is now Ukraine and Russia. And also to what is now Belarus. Where we find the Tsviki — Цвики — family.

Two Belarusian Tsvikis, about 60 years apart in age. One, Leonid, back in Vitebsk, Belarus; the other, Julia (who came to the US a few years ago), in Hallandale Beach FL.

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What a piece of work is Miss Lucille

May 22, 2019

The 4/25 One Big Happy features Miss Lucille:

(#1)

Ah, a piece of work.

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homeworks

May 21, 2019

A facebook exchange back on the 6th, between Andrew Carnie (professor of linguistics and dean of the Graduate College at the Univ. of Arizona) and Karen Chung (associate professor at National Taiwan University, teaching courses on linguistics and English).

Andrew: [Student], who only came to class less than 50% of the time, and turned in a bunch of assignments (really) late: These homeworks are way. too. hard. It’s unfair.

Karen: “Homework” as a countable noun? Is he/she a native speaker of English?

Academics will recognize Andrew’s note as the plangent lament of a professor facing the grading tasks at the end of a term, confronted with a self-entitled student who believes they are really smart, so preparation outside of class shouldn’t take much work (and they should be able to ace the final without much studying).

But what Karen picks up on is the use the noun homework as a C(ount) noun, clearly so because it occurs in the plural form homeworks here; for the M(ass) noun homework, the usage would be: This homework is way. too. hard. Or else: These homework assignments are way. too. hard.

Much as I sympathize deeply with Andrew’s lament — having had nearly 50 years of similar experiences (fortunately far outweighed by students who were a delight to teach) — what this posting is about is the C/M thing. There’s a fair amount to get clear about first, and then I’ll have some analysis, some data, and some reflections on larger matters (language use in particular communities of practice, the tension between brevity and clarity as factors in language use).

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Stravinsky’s 1970 Firebird and the Ghoulliard Quartet

May 20, 2019

Music, cartoons, and language play, plus Slavic folklore, Seiji Ozawa and his expressive hair, pony cars, symphony trumpeters, NPR, and Frankenstein’s monster. It starts with this wonderful cartoon by Jeffrey Curnow from the NPR site (hat tip to Virginia Transue):

(#1)

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Annals of fruity goodness: the strawberry file

May 20, 2019

(Warning: It ends with indirect allusion to mansex and with two shirtless actors, arms around each other’s shoulders, showing their stuff in their underwear.)

A recent posting in the My Home is California group on Facebook:

(a) I dreamed of photographing a sliced strawberry …, thinking it was a fruit. It is actually more closely related to a rose.

To which I now respond, first:

(b) I dreamed of photographing a sliced potato, thinking it was a vegetable. It is actually more closely related to a petunia.

And, second:

(c) I dreamed of photographing James Franco, thinking he was a fruit. He is actually more closely related to a piece of meat.

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Great twerks of the 19th century

May 19, 2019

In advertising for the Palo Alto Art Center’s exhibition Local Editions: A Celebration of Bay Area Printmaking 6/15/19 – 8/25/19, this arresting print by Judy Aoki:


(#1) (She) Twerkin’, 2014 stone lithograph with watercolor (on Aoki’s website under the title Dance Styles of the 1800’s, from her Museum of Historical Makeovers)

A note on the late 20th- / early 21st-century dance craze twerking, then more on Aoki and her work.

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Ostentatiously playful allusions

May 18, 2019

(OPAs, for short.) The contrast is to inconspicuously playful allusions, what I’ve called Easter egg quotations on this blog. With three OPAs from the 4/20/19 Economist, illustrating three levels of closeness between the content of the OPA and the topic of the article: no substantive relationship between the two (the Nock, Nock case), tangential relationship (the Sunset brouhaha case), and tight relationship (the defecate in the woods case).

The three cases also illustrate three degrees of paronomasia: the Nock, Nock case involves a (phonologically) perfect pun; the Sunset brouhaha case an imperfect pun; and the defecate in the woods case no pun at all, but whole-word substitutions.

I’ll start in the middle, with Sunset brouhaha. But first, some background. Which will incorporate flaming saganaki; be prepared.

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Pooh’s honey pot

May 16, 2019

(Talk of men’s bodies and mansex, not appropriate for kids or the sexually modest.)

From several posters on Facebook, a raunchy fabric composition involving TopPooh, TPooh for short, and BottomPooh, BPooh for short (both of them from Ernest Shepard illustrations for the original Winnie-the-Pooh books), doing a standing doggy:

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Is Timmy in trouble?

May 16, 2019

The Wayno/Piraro Bizarro from the 14th shows us Lassie trying to deliver a message about Timmy:


(#1) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 2 in this strip — see this Page.)

Ah, a variant of the Lassie-Timmy cartoon meme. With a play on the senses of be in trouble. From various dictionaries:

(i) ‘in a problematic situation or state of hardship’
(ii) ‘in peril, danger’
(iii) ‘subject to or due for punishment’
(iv) (euph.) ‘pregnant and unmarried’

In the usual cartoon meme, Timmy is in trouble in sense (i) or (ii) — classically, he has fallen down a well — but in #1, it’s sense (iii). I haven’t found an instance of the meme that bends gender to take advantage of sense (iv), but it’s certainly imaginable. (And for a possibility torn from the headlines, if you’re in trouble in sense (iv) and get an abortion, in Alabama you’re now in trouble in sense (iii).)

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