A New Yorker trio

Three cartoons from the 10/26 New Yorker: two of linguistic interest (by Amy Hwang and Roz Chast), one (by Christopher Weyant) yet another Desert Island cartoon.

Hwang: jam beans. On p. 28:


Suddenly you realize that both parts of the N + N compound jelly bean are resembloid — metaphorical — rather than literal. This is very clear in the NOAD entry:

noun jelly bean: a bean-shaped candy with a jellylike center and a firm sugar coating.

For the head N: bean-shaped (not actually a bean, but like a bean). For the modifier N: jellylike (not actually jelly, but like jelly). So the compound is thoroughly idiomatic, a fact that the cartoon plays with by varying the N jelly with its culinary counterpart jam.

Chast: NO. On p. 42:


Chast’s riff on uses of the determiner no starts with straightforward exclusionary admonitions — no swimming, etc. — and then roams through a variety of more formulaic and idiomatic examples, like no way and no business like show business.

Weyant: Desert Island. On p. 69:

(#3) “Why didn’t you tell me your parents were coming to visit?”

The message in a bottle.

Desert Island cartoons are by definition goofy and preposterous — their underlying premise doesn’t bear more than a moment of reflection — but this one is doubly so. Like the guy should have known that his parents were traveling to the desert island in a (huge) bottle.


2 Responses to “A New Yorker trio”

  1. thnidu Says:

    I think this is one of my favorites of your blog posts.

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      You can’t know this, but I’ve been desperately sick and unhappy, and barely able to eke out any postings at all, so it pleases me enormously that what I manage to achieve is appreciated by some readers.

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