Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Taboo book notice

December 13, 2018

… that is, a notice of a book on taboo language: The Oxford Handbook of Taboo Words and Language, ed. by Keith Allan, publisher’s site here.

Cover art: Namarrgon the Lightning Man (aboriginal rock art from Western Arnhemland); he comes to earth as a lightning strike and brings the fierce tropical storms in Western Arnhemland during the monsoon season (notable testicles are a common feature of representations of him)

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Books of the year

December 9, 2018

… in the Economist‘s 12/1 issue,”Books of the year: The big read”, (p. 76), in the Culture category: 6 books selected, including:

The Prodigal Tongue. By Lynne Murphy. Penguin Books; 368 pages; $17. Oneworld, £16.99.

The first and perhaps only book on the merits of American and British English that is dominated by facts and analysis rather than nationalistic prejudice. For all its scholarship, this is also a funny and rollicking read.

And in “The Economist’s journalists unbound: A short hstory of moonlighting: Here are the books our writers published in 2008” (p. 77):

Talk on the Wild Side: The Untameable Nature of Language. By Lane Greene. Economist Books/Hachette; 240 pages; $26. Profile Books: £14.99.

Our Johnson columnist argues that English is a living organism; language rules are often preferences in disguise. “He is open-minded and discerning,” the Spectator said; “no zealot and no snob.”

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O rosemary, my rosemary

December 7, 2018

From Kim Darnell today, a Christmas tree, which she then decorated to suit my household:


(#1) O rosemary, my rosemary

I’d admired these little rosemary bushes at Whole Foods: pretty, wonderfully scented, useful in cooking, and an excellent evergreen container plant for my patio garden (rosemary shrubs are widely used as border and filler plants locally).

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A grotesque word

November 29, 2018

Tuesday’s Zippy:

(#1)

Another chapter in word attraction: Zippy’s (and Griffy’s) enjoyment of “funny words”. Here, gargoyle, which Zippy, absurdly, analyzes as a compound of the nouns gar (referring to a kind of sharp-toothed fish) and goyle (a rare, mostly dialectal, term for a deep trench) — so, roughly ‘fish ravine’. Turns out the actual etymology of gargoyle is entertaining enough on its own.

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A fantasy exercise in cartoon understanding

November 22, 2018

In the latest (11/26/18) New Yorker, this Ali Solomon cartoon presents a test in cartoon understanding:


(#1) “Oh yes. Definitely a forgery. Hope it didn’t cost you much.”

If you recognize the loin-clothed hunkering figure with the big eyes, you’ll understand what’s happening in the cartoon and why it’s funny. Otherwise, it’s just baffling.

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OBH analyses

November 21, 2018

Two recent One Big Happy strips in which the analysis of words into parts plays a role: one from 10/14 with a Ruthian eggcorn (treating archive as ark + hive); and one from 10/23 in which Joe puzzles over the consequences of appreciating that nobody is no + body.

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Reciprocity in the profane domain

November 16, 2018

At the request of colleagues who are working on reciprocal and symmetric expressions in English, yesterday I scanned in a classic paper on the topic, which is also a classic paper in profane-domain linguistics (aka scatolinguistics ‘the linguistics of dirty talk’): Quang Phuc Dong’s “A note on conjoined Noun Phrases”. Having gone to the trouble, I’m reproducing the scans here so that they will be generally available through this blog.

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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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Famous wolf on the Yellow Brick Road

October 31, 2018

In today’s comics feed, the One Big Happy from 10/4, in which Ruthie mondegreens:

(#1)

Yes: the song “We’re Off to See the Wizard”, from the 1939 movie of The Wizard of Oz, with we’re off (mis)heard as Rolf.

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The holidays of our lives

October 27, 2018

(Near the end, there will be a hunky male model wearing nothing but a Halloween jockstrap. A warning in case you’d prefer to avoid a holiday men’s underwear discussion.)

Yesterday’s Zippy features a Dingburg-local idiomatic holiday:

(#1)

Of course, I immediately went to sources to discover what was celebrated on October 26th. Well, not only is October National Pumpkin Month, the 26th is the day specifically devoted to the fruit of Cucurbita pepo, this orange squash / gourd / melon / cucurbit: National Pumpkin Day. The day ushers in the Pumpkin Season, which is prefigured by a period in which pumpkin spice erupts as a ubiquitous descriptor of foods and much more (see my 10/20/17 posting “A processed food flavor”); which embraces a number of Halloween-specific cultural practices and symbols (jack-o-lanterns, dressing up in costumes, and trick-or-treating, plus witches and black cats as symbols — and orange and black as a decorative theme); and which is culinarily realized in pumpkin pie as a holiday food for Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.

So pumpkin pie can last you from mid-October to early January. Meanwhile, some riffs on the cartoon and some on edible pumpkiniana.

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