Archive for the ‘Ambiguity’ Category

Proper nouns

June 16, 2018

In the One Big Happy of May 30th, Ruthie falls into the pit of use and mention:

There’s an adjective proper as defined by Ruthie’s mother. Then there’s the adjective proper in the idiomatic nominals proper noun / name. And that’s just the beginning of the problem.

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In case of cartoons, see therapist

June 11, 2018

It started with this John Deering cartoon from 11/23/12 (passed on by a series of Facebook posters):

(#1)

In the tradition of the signage

IN CASE OF FIRE, BREAK GLASS

and introducing the cartoonist Deering, who’s fond of the Psychiatrist cartoon meme.

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contractions

June 7, 2018

The One Big Happy from May 11th, in which Ruthie discovers that there are contractions and then there are contractions:

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Now We Are Nine, a Journey to the East

June 6, 2018

(Underwear and race / ethnicity / nationality / religion among gay men.)

News from Daily Jocks: a birthday for the Australian premium men’s underwear firms 2eros and Supawear (brothers in sexwear):


(#1) 2eros


(#2) Supawear

Notably, Asian models for the birthday celebration. Most sexunderwear firms are very light on black models, Latino models, Asian models (of all ethnicities and nationalities), and, for that matter, identifiably Jewish models. Andrew Christian is, on the whole, a stunning exception: his advertising reflects the use of “exotic” models in the fashion industry rather than the custom in the premium men’s underwear industry of relying on models whose looks are pumped-up mirrors of their customers’. The customers are mostly SAE-D — standard average European-descended — men (“standard average European” here is a little linguist’s joke, making reference to Standard Average European (SAE) languages, in Benjamin Lee Whorf’s terminology); the products either flatter their self-images or feed their fantasies of exotic men (for certain values of exotic).

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mean age

June 5, 2018

In the May 9th One Big Happy, Ruthie is faced with the ambiguity of modifying mean — and, unsurprisingly, opts for a familiar sense rather than a technical one:

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The canine therapist

June 3, 2018

Posted by a Facebook foaf today, this Bizarro from 10/14/10:

(If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 5 in this strip — see this Page.)

The Psychiatrist meme, with a talking dog as a bonus. Plus, in my title, a nominal with the pseudo-adjective canineand it’s ambiguous.

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What happened in vagueness?

June 3, 2018

Available in a number of designs on the net:

(#1)

From the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy’s “Ambiguity” entry (edited by Adam Sennet, first published 5/16/11, last substantive revision 2/8/16):

Fun fact: the word ‘ambiguous’, at least according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is ambiguous between two main types of meaning: uncertainty or dubiousness on the one hand and a sign bearing multiple meanings on the other. I mention this merely to disambiguate what this entry is about, which concerns a word or phrase enjoying multiple meanings.

In the technical literature on these things, the first notion is known as (among other things) vagueness, while the second is known as (linguistic) ambiguity. Ouch.

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A chiastic bird

June 1, 2018

It’s been a while since I posted chiastic (transpositional, Spooneristic) wordplay, so here’s a Bizarro from 12/16/08:

  (#1)

The title To Kill a Mockingbird  –> To Mock a Killingbird by transposition (exchange, reversal), of kill and mock (the sort of exchange seen in Spoonerisms as inadvertent errors). Formally  of interest because the process “goes into” a compound word, to affect one of its parts (mocking), and also into an affixed word, to affect its base (mock). On the conceptual side, this particular kind of wordplay is shallow, thin, since only one of the two paired situations is represented in the cartoon: having served its purpose as base for transposition, the book To Kill a Mockingbird plays no further role in the proceedings.

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Dramatic exits

May 31, 2018

A Leigh Rubin cartoon from the 22nd, illustrating an exit and a dramatic exit:

(#1)

First, this is a play on the ambiguity of exit, as a N referring to a concrete object (a door, used for exiting) or an act (of exiting). Then there’s another ambiguity, in the  sense of dramatic in the nominal dramatic exit: it could be taken literally, as ‘pertaining to a play’, but here it’s used with a figurative sense ‘melodramatic, stagey, flamboyant’ (note the man’s gesture). In its second use, dramatic incorporates a figurative sense of the N drama seen also in the (originally US gay) slang compound drama queen.

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Two from Fairbanks

May 20, 2018

Two cartoons recently passed on to me by Chris Waigl in Fairbanks AK: a Cheer Up, Emo Kid (CUEK), about technical uses of words; and (actually from Alaska) a Tundra, about point of view in the interpretation of compound nouns.

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