Archive for the ‘Ambiguity’ Category

Now serving at the Raven Cafe

May 11, 2022

Today’s Mother Goose and Grimm, with the POP (phrasal overlap portmanteau) Edgar Allan Po’ Boy = Edgar Allan Poe (the American writer and poet) + po’ boy (the superb New Orleans submarine sandwich):


(#1) Edgar Allan Po’ Boy is a N1 + N2 compound N, understood as having the head, N2, semantically associated with the modifier, N1, by (the referent of) N2’s being named after (the referent of) N1 — parallel to the Woody Allen Sandwich (a tower of corned beef and pastrami) at NYC’s Carnegie Deli

(Plus the allusion to Poe’s poem The RavenQuoth the raven, “Nevermore” — in Grimm’s, “I had it once, but… nevermore”.)

If you were a betting person, you would surely put some money on this MGG strip as not being the first to use this particular POP — of course, that would be fine, it’s all in how you develop the joke — and you would win.

Just on this blog, in Zippy postings from 2016 and a Rhymes With Orange posting in 2017.

Plus bonuses: a texty with a pun turning on the ambiguity of /póbòj/ as either po’ boy or Poe boy; and two cartoons turning on Edgar Allan Poe / Po’ Boy understood as a Source or Ingredient compound (parallel to shrimp po’ boy) — yes, Edgar Allan Poe in a po’ boy, in it, good enough to eat.

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The discovery of smoke

May 8, 2022

A Mick Stevens cartoon from the New Yorker of 4/18:


(#1) The giant black cloud of smoke, largely obscuring its discoverer, made me laugh out loud when this issue arrived last month

But I didn’t post about the cartoon because it seemed to have neither a linguistics point nor a gender & sexuality point (nor to engage with other of my passions — music, art, food, plants, animals, mathematics, men’s bodies, shapenote singing, Switzerland, my medical conditions, and so on).

Ah, man of little faith. There is almost always a linguistics point to be found; and, if I’m willing to exercise some ingenuity, a gay point too. And so it is here.

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Eight Days in Spring

April 5, 2022

Tuesday to Tuesday, linguistics on the march to take over the comics: the Zippy strip of Tuesday 3/29 (on names and things) and the xkcd cartoon for today, Tuesday 4/5 (on esthetic responses to words: from word attraction to word aversion). (Warning: the word aversion discussion will take us to a sexual act, typically between men, that I will discurse on in intimate detail, in a way that’s utterly inappropriate for kids and the sexually modest.)

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Riffs on squat

April 3, 2022

(There will, as the title tells you, be riffs on squat, well, on squat. Since I’m given to finding my material in louche and faggy places, there will be brief encounters with squat — short and thick, fireplug-like — male organs and with a squatting position for receptive anal intercourse. But no visible body parts.)

I glanced at today’s incoming e-mail, which included a mailing from the New York Times with a link to a story of theirs offering life advice:

(#1)

I found it remarkable that the paper was giving pointers on how to embark on living in uninhabited buildings without the legal right to do so. But then we live in precarious times, and millions are having trouble coping.

Then I found the fine print of the mail header:

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Two cartoons on familiar themes

March 24, 2022

In my comics feed recently: a One Big Happy (from 4/6/10) on masculinity for boys; and a Wayno / Piraro  Bizarro (from 4/23) with an Ahab and the whale cartoon (but with a whole lot more packed into it).

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Auntie Em and the hex wrench

March 21, 2022

Two cartoons in today’s feed: the 4/5/10 One Big Happy, in which James copes with an unfamiliar technical label by assimilating it to a name he knows; and the 3/21 Wayno / Piraro Bizarro, with a cute play on hex wrench.

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The prank telegram

March 6, 2022

(A posting for my half-birthday, 3/6. When you’re  a child, half-birthdays are good things, because a year is a long time to wait till people celebrate your life on earth again. When you’re old and infirm, they’re good things again, because a year is a long time to hope you’ll live till such a celebration comes again. I’ve gotten through another 6 months: a small but significant accomplishment, though frankly it seems mostly to be luck.)

Choosing more or less randomly from the fish in the sea of unblogged postings: this wry Wayno / Piraro Bizarro from 1/28:


(#1) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 4 in this strip — see this Page.) Like an antique prank phone call

The prank turns on an ambiguity, in this case on fresh as a predicate adjective: ‘(of food) recently made or obtained; not canned, frozen, or otherwise preserved’ vs. ‘(of a person) presumptuous, impertinent’ (with the mutton, preposterously,  personified).

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Men’s Briefs: the locked gaze

February 20, 2022

(A little tribute to, among other things, man-on-man anal sex in the Cowboy position, and the facial expressions and gaze accompanying the act — so definitely not for kids or the sexually modest. There are fuzzed-up images below; the photos with the genitals untouched are in a parallel posting “The locked gaze” on AZBlogX today.)

A Falcon Studios e-mail ad yesterday:

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A regular genius

February 19, 2022

The One Big Happy for 3/6/10 (yes, 2010), just arrived in my comics feed:


(#1) Ruthie, to her neighbor James, about the adjective regular ‘exemplary’ (in either of two different ways of being exemplary)

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Four approaches to sucking someone’s socks off

February 4, 2022

(Full of linguistic expressions referring to genitals and sexual acts, but not depicting these acts or treating them as cultural practices.)

A heavy-linguistics follow-up to my 11/5/21 posting “I want to suck your socks off”, which told the moving tale of a sexual encounter between the characters Alex and Jake, the center of which is a sub-episode beginning with Jake declaring to Alex:

I want to suck your socks off (A)

conveying, roughly, ‘I want to give you enormous satisfaction by fellating you to orgasm’, that is, ‘I want to give you a truly fabulous blow job’ — a vow that Jake then proceeded to make good on.

This posting isn’t about raunchy acts like Jake’s — I hope to, um, flesh out the tale of Jake and Alex in another posting — but about English VPs like the one underlined in (A), Jake’s raunchily colloquial

suck your socks off (B)

Call VP (B) syoso for short; I’ll have a lot to say about syoso. It turns out that it’s at least four-ways ambiguous, though in the sex-drenched context of the Jake and Alex story, you’re probably going to recognize only sense 4, sexual syoso.

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