Archive for the ‘Ambiguity’ Category

freak shows

September 19, 2017

Today’s Zippy reflects on a bit of culture — a fascination with deformed and otherwise outrageous human beings — name-checks Lady Gaga, Anderson Cooper, and (indirectly) the current residents of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. in Washington — and exploits the ambiguity of the compound freak show:

(#1) At the menagerie / side show

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Reduced questions

August 30, 2017

A recent One Big Happy in my comics feed:

The woman with the little yappy dog offers Ruthie a casual-speech reduced question, here just a NP a good protector, plus an assent particle. Unfortunately, the reduction introduces a multiplicity of interpretations that would otherwise not be present: the unreduced form could be Is he a good protector? (the woman’s intention) or Are you a good protector? (what Ruthie understands, given her knowledge of the dog and his proclivities) or various other possibilities, like Do you want a good protector?.

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Solid Chet and lean Bo

August 28, 2017

Underwear ads again (from today’s Daily Jocks sale), with captions from me. Men’s bodies, mansex allusions, not for everyone.

(#1) Sweat with me, baby

Solid Chet the gym jock
Sweats hard
Lick the salt he’ll
Towel you off

(#2) Lowriders on the storm

Lean Bo the surf jock
Goes low pull him
Lower use your
Teeth those trunks are
Made for cruising

Sweaty Chet and lowball Bo.

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Revisiting 1: Will McPhail

August 25, 2017

Cartoons by Will McPhail, last seen here in three cartoons on 4/15/17, in particular a wordless cartoon (in which God slam-dunks in an angel’s halo). Now from the August 28th New Yorker, this complex exercise in cartoon understanding, drawing on several pieces of very specific cultural knowledge:

(#1)

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cut the bill in half

August 20, 2017

Yesterday’s Mother Goose and Grimm:

An ambiguity in the verb cut, combined with two metonymically related uses of the noun bill.

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look pretty Adj

July 24, 2017

In a recent One Big Happy, Ruthie and her mother stumble through Ambiguityland:

An ambiguity both lexical and structural.

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Chast, Haefeli, Kaplan

July 6, 2017

Three cartoons from the latest issue (July 10th and 17th) of the New Yorker, by Roz Chast (heirloom hot dogs), William Haefeli (gay couple with dog and baby), and Bruce Eric Kaplan (a visit from Dr. Seuss).

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Another prohibition on tipping

July 4, 2017

Yesterday’s posting on cow-tipping and related matters distinguished two verbs tip, played with in a cartoon by Daniel Beyer:

(1) give (someone) a sum of money as a way of rewarding them for their services

(3) overbalance or cause to overbalance so as to fall or turn over

and provided a joke sign prohibiting cow-tipping. There are of course also NO TIPPING signs, usually in restarants, prohibiting gratuities.

Now Benita Bendon Campbell reminds me of NO TIPPING signs in the UK that often baffle American visitors because they appear along roads, in places where gratuities would seem to be irrelevant. There are variants that show that a third verb tip is at issue here, one related to the

noun tip: British a place where trash is deposited; a dump. (NOAD2)

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Getting the comic

July 3, 2017

Yesterday, from Chris Hansen, this cartoon by Daniel Beyer:

(#1)

Chris’s comment:

It took me a minute to “get” it (I’ve been in England for a looooong time)

(Chris is an American long resident in England.)

Another exercise in understanding comics. In this case, requiring a crucial piece of knowledge about American popular culture.

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Fixing things

June 21, 2017

A Pearls Before Swine strip that’s been sitting in my queue since, omigod, 2/14/16:

All about fixing things.

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