Archive for April, 2022

My allergic ass

April 30, 2022

Back on 4/21, I wrote to John Beavers (the University of Texas semanticist) with a data find that was, perhaps, of interest to him (mail exchanges edited quite substantially):

AZ >JB: Caught in a Facebook discussion just now:

Sister Hera Sees Candy (wonderful drag name of a Sister of Perpetual Indulgence [a SF order of queer and trans drag nuns]): My allergic ass in high school used to sing, “The hills are alive with the sound of mucus.”

It’s the 1sg pronominal ass [that is, my ass referring to the speaker, Hayden Reynolds, not to his buttocks], which I thought was admirable (I am easily amused), as well as an ingenious way to get a noun in there so that allergic would have a place to go. (otherwise, the marginal Allergic me in high school used to sing …; and the clearly ungrammatical Allergic I in high school used to sing …).

Did you and Andrew [John Beavers & Andrew Koontz-Garboden, A universal pronoun in English? Linguistic Inquiry 37.3.503-13 (2006)] have other 1sg examples? (Clearly, it’s pushing the envelope.)


The gun to the writer’s head

April 30, 2022

From Facebook discussion on 4/28 triggered by Heidi Harley’s report from the world of apps:

I just learned about this from Twitter and am mesmerized. Just the thought makes me sweat, but I kind of want to try and see how much prose I can generate in a fixed time period. Basically the way it works is you set a timer and start writing, and if you stop for any longer than 5 seconds before the end of your timer, it deletes all your words.

From Wikipedia:

The Most Dangerous Writing App is a web application for free writing that combats writer’s block by deleting all progress if the user stops typing for five seconds. It is targeted at creative writers who want to write first drafts without worrying about editing or formatting.


The cadenza and the coda

April 29, 2022

Morning names for today (4/29), set off by a cadenza in a Mozart piano concerto that was playing when I got up just after midnight for a brief whizz break. The word cadenza led me immediately to coda, both musical bits coming at the end, also both sounding sort of Italian (which, in fact, they once were), indeed sounding very similar at their beginnings (/kǝd/ vs. /kod/) — but it turns out that though their etymologies both go back to Latin, a cadenza is a falling (or, metaphorically, a death) and a coda is a tail.

(#1) A tv ad: Help me! I’m in a cadenza and I can’t get up!

(#2) A linguistic Tom Swifty: “Coda, my ass! That’s a coati or a koala, I don’t know which”, quoted Cody in Kodiak.



April 28, 2022

From Nancy Friedman on her Fritinancy site (“Names, brands, writing, and the language of commerce”) on 4/25, “Word of the week: Bookchella”:

The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, first held in 1996, returned to the USC campus last weekend after a two-year Covid hiatus. Because April 22 through 24 was also the final weekend of this year’s Coachella Music Festival, held 130 miles away in Southern California’s Colorado Desert, someone — maybe the person in charge of the Times’s Twitter feed — decided it would be cute to call the literary festival #Bookchella.

And just like that, –chella became the new –stock: a portable suffix denoting “festival.”

Except it wasn’t exactly “just like that.” And watch your back, LATFOB: the music festival in the desert has a history of refusing to give up its –chella without a legal fight.

Some linguistic background first. The –chella in #Bookchella operates as a “libfix” (liberated affix), as the linguist Arnold Zwicky dubbed such word parts, which are also known as productive bound morphemes. Tack –chella onto the end of another word and you communicate “festival.” For decades now, –stock, clipped from Woodstock, has played a similar role. (Read my 2013 article about “X-stock.”) Other well-known libfixes include –gate for any scandal and –preneur for any independent businessperson. (More libfixes here; read my 2014 article about –preneur compounds here.)


Postings on male friendship

April 27, 2022

(and on bro-buddies, so there will be some quoted plain talk about man-on-man sex — warning for the wary)

From the arena of masculinity studies, some postings on this blog on male friendship (and on bromances, Biffs, and bro-jobs)


A masculinity meze: face men

April 27, 2022

(This has turned out to be quite a large meze, but it’s only about one idiomatic slang expression. Well, men and masculinity come into the thing, and you know what can happen then.)

Reflecting a couple days ago on my Princeton days (1958-62) and the tangle of the attitudes of the (all-male) students at the time towards (among things) masculinity, male affiliation (as systematized in a pervasive system of male bands, the eating clubs of the time), women, homosexuals, race, and social class. The topic is vast, also deeply distressing to me personally, and I suspect that I’ll never manage to write about the bad parts of it in any detail — note: there were some stunningly good parts — but in all of that I retrieved one lexical item of some sociolinguistic interest (and entertainment value), one slang nugget: the idiomatic N1 + N2 compound noun face man / faceman / face-man.

A common noun frequently used among my friends, which was then also deployed as a proper noun nicknaming one of our classmates, a young man notable for his facial male beauty: everybody had to have a nickname (mine was Zot, for the Z of my name and the cartoon anteater), so we called him Face Man because he was a face man.


Gallery: five beautiful male faces

April 26, 2022

A small photo gallery on male facial beauty, plus selected links to postings on the topic on this blog — all this as auxiliary to a brief posting on the N + N compound noun face man / faceman / face-man that I’m preparing. Hey, it’s a chance to enjoy the pictures first. (Erst kommt das Fressen, dann kommt die Moral). (more…)

Meze: male friendship in fiction

April 25, 2022

It begins in medias res. I am listening to a high-hype tv ad for a movie whose title I didn’t catch:

This compelling story of male friendship will move you deeply!

Whoa, I think, this is my stuff, I’ve gotta make a note of that URL and search for a theatrical release poster or something else I can put in a posting.

Then I realize that this is a dream, and in dreamland there’s no way to save notes and images on your computer.

I’m only two hours into my sleep for the night, but the related idea of fiction about male friendship — I’ve posted quite a lot about male friendship in the movies and tv and, of course, real life — grips me, so I get up and go to my actual computer to see what’s out there. I check stuff out for maybe an hour, taking copious notes and saving some images, and then go back to bed; returning to sleep takes me no more than a minute, sometimes I’m back in ten seconds. (Yes, I realize that this ability is some kind of gift from nature, but I’ve had it, strikingly, since I was a teenager. Occasional moments of insomnia or disordered sleep are, for me, red flags signaling a serious problem.)

Very satisfying search; report below. But first, the prequel to that dream.


The fruitcake and the meze

April 24, 2022

The fruitcake is a metaphor, applied first of all here to  my 4/20 posting “Oh joy, oh rapture unforeseen!” — a huge, complex mixture of writing about joy, playfulness, sex, story-telling, intertwined narrative, human nature, memory, artistic performance, Purcell, Jeremiah Clarke, Mendelssohn, Shakespeare, Schubert, Mozart, my life as a child, Lenore Barth and her family, my life with Ann Daingerfield, my life with Jacques Transue, my despair at the evil in the world, and, oh Christ, much more. All compounded together in such a way that no individual topic can easily be pulled out of the mixture. Like a fruitcake.

(You then get the allusion to (offensive) fruit ‘male homosexual’ for free.)

And then this metaphor applied to personal identities, most pointedly mine. Also enormously complex mixtures, a fact merely hinted at my assertions in the 4/20 posting:

I am a prole, proud of it, a union guy from the age of 17 on; I am also a distinguished university professor and all that other good shit.

And then, and then, and then … I am in fact a giant fruitcake of identities, and so are you (just not the same ones).

What about a metaphor counterposed to the fruitcake metaphor? In particular, how do we characterize postings that present pretty much one thing at a time, with the understanding that the postings are parts of some larger assemblage?



April 23, 2022

If you wanna be one of the guys, you gotta talk like one of the guys. The lesson of this masculinity cartoon by Hartley Lin in the New Yorker of 4/25 & 5/2:

Being one of the boys here is fitting into (what I’ve called) a male band, a group of mutually supportive, like-minded, and like-acting bros. (See the section on “The social organization of men in modern America” in my 1/6/21 posting “Another 1996 Superbowl moment”.) Like-acting because the band monitors its members’ behavior and enforces the band norms, which the band members see as matters of masculinity display.

Two kinds of masculinity display. A core type that I’ll call negative masculinity display, characterized by avoidance of anything that smacks of women or girls. And a more purely conventional type — positive masculinity display — characterized by adhering to local norms of behavior that are simply “how guys do it” — stuff that males pick up from other males. (The terminology is loosely based on negative and positive politeness; see the Wikipedia section on the politeness types, following Brown & Levinson.)

Green Hand (who’s a green ‘inexperienced’ ranch hand) has come up short on a linguistic bit of positive masculinity in this band of ranch hands: as the older hand explains to him in an avuncular way, the appropriate bro-xclamation there for expressing exuberance is yee-haw, not yahoo. Now, if Green Hand had used yoo-hoo, he would have been off on two linguistic counts: in negative masculinity (yoo-hoo is fairly strongly gendered, for use primarily by women); and in actual semantic content, yoo-hoo being a call, not an expression of emotion.