Archive for July, 2019

Locatives, inalienability, and determiner choices

July 31, 2019

All this, and more, in two recent One Big Happy cartoons, from 7/2 (I broke a finger — the determiner cartoon) and 7/4 (Where was the Declaration of Independence signed? — the locative cartoon). Both featuring Ruthie’s brother Joe.  I’ll start with the locatives.

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The opossum joke

July 30, 2019

(I posted a version of this under the heading “The opossum” on July 30th, but by a WordPress glitch the link to that posting was later re-directed to the next posting in line, “Ralph at the Port Authority” (here), so that my earlier posting disappeared completely. I lamented this loss on Facebook, and eventually archivist and quote investigator Garson O’Toole magicked up a Google Cache version of the text for me. Thanks to Garson, here’s a reconstituted version.)

(Totally baffled addendum. WordPress has published this revised posting with the date 7/30, though it was actually posted on 8/1.)

A very sweet One Big Happy from 6/30: Ruthie and her grandfather:

(#1)

A granddad joke — well, actually, two of them in sequence, the first sledgehammer simple (a classic dad joke), the second delightfully subtle (a meta-joke in which the audience response becomes a crucial part of the joke).

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Wary

July 27, 2019

(Underwear boys, so not to everyone’s tastes. But not especially raunchy.)

Young men in the, if you know what I mean, pink of life, advertising a Lucas Studios porn sale, with my caption:

Mindful of the
Neighborhood rash of
Bikini brief thefts,
Pongo was fearfully
Protective of
Bongo’s beloved
Magenta Silks

For a change, this is not about men’s bodies, pleasing though these are; nor about pink/purple men’s bikini briefs, though there’s a fabulous array of them on display on the net; but about facial expressions.

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Avocado Chronicles: 7 “eatable only as a salad”

July 27, 2019

A brief note about guacamole and its referent, thanks to this ADS-L posting on 7/26  by Bill Mullins:

OED has 1920 for guacamole. Barry Popik has 1894. [see below]

Bill takes this back a few years:

Springfield [VT] Reporter 25 Sep 1891 p 2 col 3.

“The famous aguacate, known here as the alligator pear, is really no fruit, but a vegetable, eatable only as a salad “guacamole,” and of the daintiest. . .  New Orleans Picayune”

My interest here is not in the antedating, but in the characterization that the avocado is “eatable only as a salad”, guacamole.

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On the lawn

July 26, 2019

In the July 29th New Yorker, two cartoons about things for American lawns, each requiring one key piece of knowledge for understanding: Bob Eckstein showing a moment of silence; Farley Katz featuring a distressed bird.

(#1)

(#2)

Both cartoons are complex — several things are going on at once, including allusions to American political life — but you can’t get anywhere with them unless you recognize the repeated images in them: the shuttlecocks of the game badminton in the Epstein, the plastic lawn flamingos in the Katz.

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Conventional and creative metaphors

July 24, 2019

In a recent comics feed, the 6/27 One Big Happy, with an exchange between Grandma Rose and the grotesquely smiling Avis

(#1)

In panel 2, the baggage of emotional baggage is a conventional metaphor, one no longer requiring the hearer to work out the effect of the figure and so now listed in dictionaries. But then Rose immediately brings it back from dormancy to life in a long riff of creative metaphor (in panels 2-4), composed on the spot and calling up a complex and vivid scene for the hearer.

We use the same term, metaphor, for both phenomena, and the mechanism is the same in both — but one is a historical phenomenon (whose figural character is usually out of the consciousness of speaker and hearer), while the other is a phenomenon of discourse production and comprehension in real time.

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The C.L. Baker Award

July 24, 2019

On March 6th, the Linguistic Society of America announced the creation of the C.L. Baker Award (named in memory of Carl Leroy Baker, known as Lee), and on July 12th put out the call for nominations.

Lee, who died in 1997, was my first Ph.D., the first person to finish a Ph.D. under my direction, with the excellent 1968 dissertation Indirect Questions in English (at the Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign). Also a friend and a fine person (modest, gently humorous, earnestly principled, and humane).

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The Dickson Poon School of Law

July 24, 2019

(As you might guess from the title, this posting treats several English expressions of varying degrees of offensiveness, so some readers might want to avoid it.)

A message from Gadi Niram a month ago:

I can’t get past the name of this school: https://www.kcl.ac.uk/law
The Dickson Poon School of Law in the University of London

— and wondering if poon doesn’t have the meaning in BrE that it does in AmE. (And then there’s the dick in Dickson.)

Briefly, the answer is: no, the lexical item poon ‘vagina, pussy’ is largely unknown in BrE. But it is an estimable Chinese name, especially in Hong Kong. If they had known about the crude offensiveness of poon in AmE, Dickson Poon’s family might have chosen another variant of their name in English, say Pan. Or maybe not; they might have decided that it’s their family’s English name and they’re proud of it. (I will compare it to the Hindi surname often spelling Dikshit in English.)

Then there’s the question of why the University of London has anything named after Dickson Poon. That’s where I’ll start.

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A note for Terry Kiser

July 23, 2019

A prospective comment for posting on my blog, following up on my 6/12/15 posting “Morning: Vic Hitler (and Terry Kiser)” (the narcoleptic comic Vic Hitler is one of Kiser’s most famous roles):

Please give Terry a message from his past. “After about seventy years, I am still following your career. On the island of Tobago, you were “getting away” after your show in NY. I just celebrated my 92nd b.day and still have happy memories of my time spent with you and your friend wandering the island. You are a credit to your profession. Thanks for sharing your talent.”

A fan letter from an old friend (of Kiser’s), whose identity I will steadfastly conceal here (actually, his name is sufficiently common that I’m not sure who he is). A fan who assumes that since I wrote about Kiser and his career in some detail and with appreciation, I know the man myself, or at least know how to get in touch with him. Alas no, though what I’ve found out about him suggests that he’s someone I’d like to get to know.

(He’s living in Austin TX, still acting — see below — and teaching. He’s a year old than I am, and he still has that great actor’s face, which in repose tends to convey subtle warmth together with sharp intelligence.)

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Oh that’s good

July 22, 2019

Following on my 7/7 posting “GN/BN”, about the Good News Bad News joke routine, which the hounds of ADS-L traced back to the early 19th century (at least). Other commenters offered formuations of the idea that there’s a good side and a bad side to everything, the bad comes withthe good, and lots of other things that, however interesting, are not instances of the joke formula (in any of its variants). But then on 7/16, Bill Mullins posted about an entirely different joke formula hinging on the opposition of good and bad.

Bill wrote:

Are you familiar with Archie Campbell’s “That’s Good/That’s Bad” routines? He used to do them on Hee Haw.

And we’re off!

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