Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Fly formulaicity

October 8, 2018

… in the 10/3 Wayno/Bizarro collab entitled “Off the wall”:


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

A little festival of formulaicity. In the title, the (informal) idiom off the wall and an allusion to the idiom fly on the wall. In the interviewee’s remark, the (colloquial) idiom fly in the buttermilk and perhaps an allusion to the song “Ole Buttermilk Sky” [10/9: but see the comment below on “Skip to My Lou”]; an allusion to a family of “Waiter, there’s a fly in my soup” jokes; and the idiom fly in the ointment. Plus a pair of excellently anthropomorphic houseflies on a tv talkshow; if it’s a late-night show, it could be Fly By Night (with the idiom fly-by-night).

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Mike Lynch

September 27, 2018

A cartoonist and cartoon enthusiast who hasn’t appeared on this blog before.

The barest of brief Wikipedia information:

Mike Lynch [born January 18, 1962, in Iowa City IA] is a cartoonist whose work can be seen in Reader’s Digest, The Wall Street Journal, Playboy and other mass media markets.

Lynch maintains a substantial blog on cartoons, with material of his own and compilations of other cartoonists.  For example, a 9/24 posting on gag cartoons, from Dick Buchanan; a 9/21 posting on women cartoonists of the New Yorker, from Liza Donnelly; a 9/20 posting on cartoonists drawing on the wall at the Overlook Lounge in NYC.

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Two bookish Tom Gaulds

September 20, 2018

More from the cartoonist of the bookish class, passed on by Facebook friends: on translation, and on book formats.

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I gotta go

September 11, 2018

The catch phrase of writer and performer Merle Kessler’s alter ego Ian Shoales, just a bit short of the more vernacular I’m outta here. That’s motion go. Then there’s elimination go, and an ambiguity between the two, as exploited by Calvin in this (recently re-cycled) Calvin and Hobbes strip:

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Through the centuries in the morning

September 10, 2018

The morning name for the 6th: Attraverso i Secoli, the title of an elementary Italian textbook from about 60 years ago. Not mine, but Ann Daingerfield Zwicky’s. No longer in my possession, after several years of the Great Library Divestment, but still I remember it, and it somehow surfaced in my dreamtime.

The title attraverso i secoli ‘(down) over / through(out) / across the centuries / ages’ is a PP with the very interesting P attraverso, which (historically) is itself a P + a N derived from a verb of motion (cf. the English V traverse).

And the expression as a whole is formulaic, a conventional way of referring to (all of) historic time.

As a bonus, there’s the book Il Quidditch Attraverso i Secoli by Kenilworthy Whisp.

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Mandarin orange at the Malamute Saloon

August 30, 2018

Yesterday’s morning names. I have a ghost of a clue as to why Mandarin oranges came to me at dawn, but the Malamute Saloon is a total mystery.

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On the journalism watch

August 30, 2018

Two recent magazine articles of linguistic interest: from the Atlantic issue for September 2018, “Your Lying Mind” by Ben Yagoda, about cognitive biases; and in the New Yorker‘s 9/3/18 issue “The Mystery of People Who Speak Dozens of Languages: What can hyperpolyglots teach the rest of us?” (on-line title; “Maltese for Beginners” in print) by Judith Thurman.

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More bedevilment

August 21, 2018

Today’s Bizarro/Wayno collab:


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

The disaster to be averted:

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall / Humpty Dumpty had a great fall

Meanwhile, HD is bedeviled. From NOAD:

verb bedevil: [a] (of something bad) cause great and continual trouble to: inconsistencies that bedevil modern English spelling. [b] (of a person) torment or harass: he bedeviled them with petty practical jokes.

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Grammarian Magazine

August 18, 2018

A 2012 playful creation of self-styled “Grammar Girl” Mignon Fogarty, reposted back on the 8th on the Our Bastard Language Facebook page:

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Yes, of course, it’s garmmra, not grammar, not about the grammar of English at all, but mostly about word choice, and then a lot of spelling and punctuation. (On garmmra, see my 2/22/12 posting “It’s All Grammar” and its successors.) Things like  the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language  and named frameworks of formal grammar(Transformational-Generative Grammar, Lexical Functional Grammar, Categorial Grammar, Construction Gramar, Generalized Phrase Structure Grammar, etc.) live in another world entirely.

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Book flash: New Work on Speech Acts

August 16, 2018

What looks to be an excellent report on work in semantics/pragmatics on speech acts, from OUP:

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