Archive for the ‘Abbreviation’ Category

What question are you asking?

December 20, 2020

The 11/27 One Big Happy strip, which came up in my comics feed recently:

The father’s question, asking for a choice, appears to be an opinion-seeking question, of a sort that adults often exchange amongst one another to make pleasant small talk or as a kind of game. But note the father’s open laptop: the opinion-seeking question is being used here as a form of test question, in which the kids are supposed to display their knowledge of culturally significant people. And the kids are perfectly aware that the exercise is some kind of test.

There is, unfortunately, another variable here: the father’s question offers choices at two points: what person (that’s the question he’s intending to ask) and living or dead (which the father intends to be clarifying the range of persons that could be possible answers, but which the kids take to be the question at issue.

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Books in the age of Zoom

December 16, 2020

A recent Tom Gauld bookish cartoon:

Commenters tend to note that the first two piles seem to be way too small for most serious book people.

Sign of the times: “Books I want people to see behind me on Zoom calls”.

Fear of death on a desert island

December 13, 2020

The 12/11 Zippy cartoon contemplates fear of death on a New Yorker desert island:


(#1) No, no, the fount of desert island gags is inexhaustible!

The strip is self-referential: Zippy reflects on his being in a cartoon. It is a Desert Island cartoon, and with its reference to the fear of dying, it alludes to another cartoon meme, the Grim Reaper.

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Acronymic mnemonics

October 18, 2020

Yesterday, in “One Big Happy mnemonics”, the distinction between expression mnenomics and name, or acronymic mnemonics, providing three spectacular examples of the former for spelling English words: among them, for ARITHMETIC:

 rat iTom’s house might eat Tom’s ice cream.

Now, a revisit to my 9/8/10 posting “NICE ‘n’ RICE”, with examples of the latter type.

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Caterpillars spinning platters

August 5, 2020

Yesterday’s Wayno/Piraro Bizarro, with songs you just can’t get out of your head:


(#1) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 6 in this strip — see this Page.)

A wonderful collision of worlds, set off by the idiomatic (and colorfully metaphorical) N + N compound earworm: the world of DJs — the ear world (disc jockeys providing sonic pleasures for the ear) — and the world of caterpillars — the worm world (caterpillars being one type of worm in colloquial English).

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Annals of ambiguity: I feel like making it rough for Schrödinger

June 24, 2020

Playing with ambiguity:

— a One Big Happy cartoon with: I feel like a tuna fish sandwich

— a domestic exchange about: I will make a dessert of my youth

— a Pearls Before Swine cartoon with: Tell me roughly

— a photograph, labeled Schrödinger’s Dumpster, of a dumpster with the signage: EMPTY WHEN FULL

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For Alan Turing

June 23, 2020

On the occasion of Alan Turing’s birthday today, this release from NPL:

1912 – 1954:  Alan Turing’s work was instrumental in placing NPL at the forefront of computer technology.

Turing had already achieved a great deal before he started work at NPL. While at King’s College, Cambridge, he earned a scholarship, Maths Tripos Part II Distinction, fellowship and Smith’s Prize, as well as writing his paper on Computable Numbers. He then moved on to Princeton University and earned his PhD in 1938, before moving back to Cambridge and starting work at the Government Code and Cryptography School in 1939, where he was an essential part of the work to break the German Enigma code.

After the war he moved to NPL in 1945, and produced his plans for the ACE computer in 1946. He worked at NPL on the ACE until he left (after being on leave to Cambridge) in 1948, not long after writing his Intelligent Machinery paper.

Two things here: the identity of NPL; and more on celebrations of Alan Turing.

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Quick shot: a job title

April 17, 2020

Background: MSNBC now has a regular feature with a report from Dr. Calvin Sun, a native New Yorker who works as an ER doc in NYC, going to a different hospital each day, filling in wherever he’s needed; on MSNBC, he describes the situation at the ER of the day.


Dr. Sun on tv: earnest, passionate, compassionate, and terribly, terribly weary

Above, I used the familiar, everyday English job title for Dr. Sun: he’s an ER / E.R. doctor, ER doc for short. The formal job title is emergency physician (who practices emergency medicine, in an emergency department).

Meanwhile, I didn’t know any AmE name for a physician who filled in for other doctors as needed.

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The rose parade

February 9, 2020

… with figurative roses. Recent gifts to me of many kinds: symbolic roses for me, in accord with a 1/29/20 posting of mine on a line from the Sacred Harp: “Give me the roses while I live” (SH340 Odem (Second)). I’m an old man, currently writing things under the Python Queen of Scots cry “Not Dead Yet”. Meanwhile, I have been given some excellent roses.

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Predicative / locational

January 26, 2020

(In the illustrations section below, there are some racy images; just a warning for the sexually modest.)

From the annals of ambiguity: the Mother Goose and Grimm from the 20th:

(#1)

Both terms of the ambiguity are of interest on their own: short-form location names (as in Men’s Fragrances in Meet us in Men’s Fragrances, with the PP in Men’s Fragrances functioning as a VP adverbial, referring to the place of the meeting) vs. (subject-oriented) predicative adjuncts (as in Meet us without a shirt, with the PP without a shirt functioning to denote some characteristic — here, shirtlessness — of the referent of the subject).

Mother Goose intended the VP location adverbial reading of in Women’s Dresses, where Women’s Dresses is the name of a department in a department store (readers are expected to know, even these days, what department stores are and how they are organized and labeled). The dogs Grimm and Ralph understood instead the predicative adjunct reading of in women’s dresses, and so they appeared wearing women’s dresses, outré though that might be.

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