In the realm of the footstools

ūüźá¬†ūüźá¬†ūüźá¬†the rabbits of December take us to the hidden spot in the tropical jungle where ottomans rule among the palm trees, as depicted in this¬†John McPherson¬†Close to Home¬†cartoon of 2/14/15:

(#1) A pun on Ottoman Empire, the Turkish realm, and ottoman, a kind of footstool

Not, as it turns out, the first time this pun has appeared in this blog. From my¬†6/20/13 posting “The ottoman empire”, this¬†Pearls Before Swine cartoon with the pun (plus some¬†history of the ottoman as the piece of furniture):

(#2) The furniture, from NOAD:¬†noun ottoman: 1¬†a low upholstered seat, or footstool, without a back or arms that typically serves also as a box, with the seat hinged to form a lid. …

And then NOAD‘s informative encyclopedic entry¬†on the proper name Ottoman Empire:

Ottoman Empire: the Turkish empire, established in northern Anatolia by Osman I at the end of the 13th century and expanded by his successors to include all of Asia Minor and much of southeastern Europe. After setbacks caused by the invasion of the Mongol ruler Tamerlane in 1402, the Ottomans captured Constantinople in 1453, and the empire reached its zenith under Suleiman in the mid 16th century. It had greatly declined by the 19th century and collapsed after World War I.

The historical relationship between the geopolitical proper name and the furniture term is metonymical: the furniture got its name from its association with the geopolitical entity. The relationship  between Ottoman Empire and ottoman is then parallel to the one between China (the geopolitical entity) and the houseware term china of china shop. But from the point of view of current English, we just have the homophonic pairs Ottoman / ottoman and China / china, which can then be used for punning jokes.

The cartoonist. John McPherson and his Close to Home¬†(single-panel) strip are new to this blog, but the¬†syndicated strip has been appearing since 1992 (and there’s a series of books collecting the cartoons). McPherson lives in Saratoga Springs NY.


Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: