Archive for June, 2023

Names in Canada

June 30, 2023

One more (quite brief) posting from the gigantic backlog, this time from a report by Peruvian linguist Ernesto Cuba on Facebook back in May. From EC, a report from an Edmonton Journal article by Joseph Brean on 5/31/23, about three papers from the Society for the Study of Names meeting in Toronto (at which EC gave a paper): about hockey nicknames, heavy metal band names, and Chinese restaurant names (in English and in Chinese characters) in Toronto’s Chinatown.

You might think that all this is hopelessly trivial — because it’s just about names and not about, say syntax — and parochial — because it’s Canadian, while we all know that the US is the real fount of linguistic and lexicographic research, with the rest of the world slumbering in some sort of benighted backwater. If so, you would be dead wrong, and I say this as (among other things) a syntactician and as an American.


54 years of chamber music and more

June 30, 2023

(More from the gigantic backlog of postings.)

This is a chorus of praise for a forthcoming book by my sister-in-law Virginia Transue (technically, my sister-in-law-in-law, and even that involves stretching the sense of spouse a bit: VT is my husband-equivalent’s brother’s wife, but we disregard all the lexical niceties, since she and I are all that’s left in the immediate family from our generation). With a surprising kicker about the moral underpinning of her enterprise — nobody expects A.J. Liebling!

The cover of the book:

Note the subtitle


Quick shot: the TitanMen Fourth of July sale ad for 2003

June 30, 2023

Just arrived in my e-mail, this entertaining Fourth of July sale ad for TitanMen gay porn:

An American flag + shirt-lifting, a biceps display, and a jutting crotch: patriotism plus a display of conventional signs of sexually desirable masculinity for guys who are into guys.

American Independence Day is what what I’ve called a masculine meat holiday (in my 6/17/22 posting “Be the Master of the Meat!”) — with the full weight of the double entendre on meat, so lending itself to exploitation in gay porn ads.

An American ship reaches port

June 30, 2023

(Rather than posting about my medical woes, which are considerable and interacting, but nevertheless allow me to continue recovering at home, I’ll continue to work through postings in preparation on June 16th, when the first cascade of crises put me in SUMC.)

From Joe Scarborough on authoritarian rulers (on MSNBC’s Morning Joe show on 6/16):

They substitute competence for blind loyalty

This is “reversed SUBSTITUTE”, conveying what would be traditionally expressed by

They substitute blind loyalty for competence (OR They replace competence with / by blind loyalty)

What’s notable about the example is that JS is American and 60 years old and that the topic is neither sporting events nor food preparation, but much more abstract in nature.

Hang on. I will explain why all of this is notable.


Two OBHs

June 29, 2023

I’m at home, recovering very erratically, with many setbacks and fresh issues. Yesterday I narrowly avoided being sent back to the emergency room at SUMC. This is all very difficult — and incredibly tiring. I don’t feel up to going over medical issues right now, but I have a big backlog of draft postings that were ready to go out on June 16th, when everything fell apart, so that I will diverge from SUMC moments to write up some of these for you.

First up, two vaguely related One Big Happy strips that appeared a while ago in my comics feeds: what I’ll call “Naked Lady” and “Define HAT”:

(#1) “Naked Lady”: on the artist’s intentions vs. the viewer’s perceptions of a work

(#2) “Define HAT”: on essence and appearance


Life at home

June 28, 2023

Briefest of postings to say that I am still at home, slept in my own bed (after weeks away) last night, and then had some alarming derailments of my bodily functions that threatened to send me back to the Stanford emergency room. But I have surmounted all of this, with the help of a caregiver; you don’t want details. Intended to post something substantial, but that will have to wait. Think good thoughts on my behalf.


SUMC moments: the apple juice

June 27, 2023

At one point in my most recent SUMC stay we had gotten to the place where I was about to be taken off NPO (see my previous posting “SUMC moments: NPO”) and given some modest real food, but the orders to do this had not yet been issued. The head nurse (about whom more in another posting, which will take us to India and the northeast corner of South America) took pity on me and extracted — oh great pleasure! — a tiny box of apple juice for me. With a wonderful name.

The box:

Photo by Erick Barros, whose fingers in the picture give you a feel for the size of the box

Not Adam & Eve, but Eve together with (one candidate for) the biblical forbidden fruit affording knowledge of good and evil:  an apple offered to Eve in the Garden of Eden by the serpent.

(The Apple & Eve company makes nothing but apple juice, though they are of course folded into a corporate conglomerate that does many things.)

No redundo

June 27, 2023

This is about the expression return again, as in the title of my 6/26/23 posting. You might have suspected that the expression is often pleonastic / redundant (for emphasis or clarity), a kind of combo of return and come (back) again: like 3 am in the morning or see with one’s one eyes.

But my title was in fact about returning a second time — my second return home from SUMC within a few days. And it turns out that the expression almost always is used for a second, or repeat, return. Not redundantly at all.

A further example: the hymn Return Again (SH335, that is, on page 335 of the (1991) Denson revision of The Sacred Harp, a standard collection of shapenote hymns). (more…)

Hail to Heidi Harley

June 27, 2023

Old news, but then I’ve been out of the world at SUMC for some time and didn’t get this posted before the cascade of disasters:

Heidi Harley (Univ. of Arizona) has been nominated as president of the Linguistic Society of America (which means three years of service to the society, each year with its own responsibilities: as vice-president, president, and immediate past president).

I note further that Heidi (born 9/26/69) is now only 53, not some elder of the discipline, so this is an especially signal recognition of her achievements.

Facebookers will know HH especially from her postings about the linguistic and social development of her two young sons.


SUMC moments: NPO

June 27, 2023

On the nurses’ board, under “diet”, it said NPO; and if you asked if you could have some juice or whatever, nurses would tell you no, you were NPO — and then maybe they’d explain that meant ‘nothing by mouth’.

Why should NPO be an abbreviation of Nothing By Mouth? If they’d once learned why, they’d forgotten, and now it was just medical jargon with this meaning, and many of them no longer realized that ordinary people might be baffled by the claim that NPO was an abbreviation for Nothing By Mouth (for which the alphabetic abbreviation would be NBM).

But it is an abbreviation. Of Latin Nil Per Os — more exactly, Nil / Nihil Per Ōs, where nil is a contraction of nihil ‘nothing’ (as in English nihilism) and ōs (the object of the preposition per) is the acc sg of the 3rd-declension ‘mouth’ noun with nom sg ōs and gen sg ōris (as in English oral).

But in any case, users of jargon — expressions associated with particular occupations or activities — are very often not aware of its in-group status and aren’t prepared to explain it to outsiders; it’s just the way you talk in this context.