Archive for the ‘Ambiguity’ Category

Give Head for Christmas!

December 13, 2018

(Significant sexual content, not for children or the sexually modest.)

Making the rounds on Facebook, this photo from a store sportswear department, with a sign that appears to be exhorting Christmas shoppers to give head ‘perform oral sex’:

(#1)

Not that some prime seasonal head wouldn’t be a fine holiday gift — but the exhortation is, alas, only to give products of the Head company, which sells (among other things) sportswear.

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Prosthetics on an anaphoric island

December 12, 2018

I posted yesterday on anaphoric islands — “Smoke from a island”, here — and then of course immediately came across a wonderful example, in a 12/1 Economist article on prosthetic limbs, where the anaphor is a bit of conspicuous language play. (The Economist is strongly inclined to language play in its heads and lead paragraphs.)

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Meaty faggots

December 12, 2018

My friend Aric was astonished yesterday to come across this food product:

Pork me: a classic presentation of faggots, in a brown gravy, accompanied by peas and mashed potatoes

No doubt he would find the following news bulletin (from Wikipedia) remarkable:

The “nose-to-tail eating” trend has resulted in greater demand for faggots in the 21st century.

Aric is American and gay, so of course pork faggots — being British and devoid of sexual associations (beyond those attending on any sort of meatball) —  are neither familiar nor salient to him.

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Wok it to the golden Lab for analysis, har-de-har-har

December 3, 2018

3 x 3: three cartoons of linguistic interest for the 3rd of December: a Dave Blazek Loose Parts with merged phonemes; a Wayno/Piraro Bizarro with an ambiguity; and a Zits with an onomatopoeia.

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Arousing the beast

November 7, 2018

In today’s comics feed, a One Big Happy that requires a double dose of pop-cultural moon knowledge to understand:

(#1)

A defiant gesture, a bit of lycanthropic folklore.

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A reading

October 31, 2018

Posted on Facebook, this Peter Steiner cartoon from 2016:


(#1) From a 1/28/16 posting on Steiner’s blog

The humor turns on an ambiguity of the verb read, and also on a specialization of the derived nominal reading to a very culture-specific event.

(Then some words on the artist, who now has a Page on this blog.)

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Use skate in a sentence

October 23, 2018

The One Big Happy in today’s comics feed, from 9/26:

(#1)

Ruthie is faced with the task of demonstrating what a word means by using it in a sentence — a task often assigned to children as a test of their understanding of word meanings. But choosing effective example sentences is a challenging art for professional lexicographers, and children are not particularly good at it.

In this case, “the word skate” could be a verb (‘move on ice skates or roller skates in a gliding fashion’ (NOAD)) or any one of several nouns, but, on hearing about her tightwad great-aunt, Ruthie fixes instead on the otherwise opaque /sket/ portion of the compound cheapskate ‘tightwad, miser’ (which she analyzes as a composite nominal cheap skate).

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She called herself Lil’

October 20, 2018

In today’s comics feed, the 9/22 One Big Happy, in which Joe wrestles with people named /lɪl/:

(#1)

(And then there’s Li’l Abner.)

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What’s he like?

October 18, 2018

In today’s comics feed, the One Big Happy for September 21st:

Playground Lady intends a WH question with (a reduced variant of) the auxiliary V is + a predicative PP headed by the P like ‘similar to’. Ruthie, ever keen on the reading not intended, hears a WH question with (a reduced variant of) the auxiliary V does (a PRS form of the V lexeme DO) + a complement VP headed by the BSE form like of the V lexeme LIKE ‘find enjoyable’. What is he like? (possible answer: He’s short and blond and funny-looking ) vs. What does he like? (possible answer: He likes playing video games).

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Chic peas and more

October 13, 2018

The fall special at Dan Gordon’s (on Emerson St. in Palo Alto), as it first appeared on the menu, about a month ago:

Summer Stew $16.95
smoked pork / cippolini onions / chic peas / prunes / red rice

(with the very notable spelling chic peas and with the misspelling cippolini for cipollini). But now the ingredients list reads:

smoked pork / cippolini onions / chickpeas / dehydrated plums / red rice

(with the notable dehydrated plums). Actually, all four ingredients have linguistic interest.

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