Archive for the ‘Errors’ Category

The mystery scribble

September 19, 2020

I wrote about this on Facebook yesterday, but now (at Ellen Kaisse’s urging) I’ve managed to get an image of the mystery scribble to preserve in my WordPress archives.

The set-up: I sometimes jot down stuff from dreams during the night, usually just a word or two, but occasionally something longer. (Not infrequently this is pointless; because of my disabled right hand, I often can’t read my own handwriting.) A message from the middle of last night appears to say:

circuses engines — need recovery from moon craters

I am baffled. Don’t know whether that’s because I’m reading the message wrong, or whether the idea is just loony. (I also sometimes get hot inspirations about linguistics in my dreams, and these always turn out to be incoherent or stupid. No benzene rings for me. More detail below.)

Later: well, maybe “churches engines”; I reject “carcuses engines” (carcasses engines?), but none of the possibilities make any sense.

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The horse on Seventh Avenue

August 18, 2020

A cartoon posted on Facebook by Stephen Zunes, who might or might not be its artist (hat tip to David Kathman):

Ah, a mishearing, leading to this excellent phonologically minimal mondegreen.

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Zippy philaconfusion

August 9, 2020

(There will be a brief dip into a mansex-steamy Tom of Finland drawing, which might offend some readers.)

Today’s Zippy, in which philandering and philately are confounded:

(#1)

Word confusions are very common; sometimes they are momentary failures to retrieve the intended word; sometimes they are misapprehensions about the target. Zerbina’s error is apparently of the first type, but she nevertheless has a complaint about Zippy’s attentions to her, though the cause isn’t philandering but philately.

The two words share an etymological component, the phil(a)- (originally ‘love’) part, seen also in philosophy, philodendron, pedophilia, Philadelphia, and much more. But this is scarcely obvious to modern speakers of English.

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Thighland

August 8, 2020

(Racy talk and joking about men’s bodies, so probably not to everyone’s taste.)

The background story is an error committed by the Imperator Grabpussy in reading from his text recently, with /θaj/ for /taj/ ‘Thai’, thereby introducing us all to the wonders of Thighland. (Details below.) Wags seized on the error for jokes, and on Facebook Tim Evanson offered photos of the King of Thighland, showing his massive muscular thighs and focusing our attention on the crotch they surround:


(#1) Thigh Guy: Kevin Cesar Portillo, who is all-around massive (he’s 6′5″), a former college basketball player at Miami-Dade CC, Mississippi Valley State, and Ave Maria Univ., now working as a male model (projecting smouldering sexiness) and fitness consultamt

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Chaka Khan and post-Freudian psychoanalytic thought

July 31, 2020

Margalit Fox on Facebook on the 29th:

Time to get my hearing checked. This evening’s dialogue:

Husband: “Jacques Lacan is the thinker who merged post-Freudian psychoanalytic thought with Structuralism.”

Me: “Chaka Khan merged post-Freudian psychoanalytic thought with Structuralism?? …”

Jacques Lacan / Chaka Khan — some phonological similarity (same accentual pattern, shared medial /k/ and final /n/, initial /ǰ/ vs. /č/, differing only in voicing, vowels similar but not calculable here because of dialect differences in their quality), but then there’s /l/ vs. /k/), but largely the connection is through their being two relatively exotic proper names of cultural significance.

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The toroids of York

May 19, 2020

Two recent Zippy strips on Maple Donuts in York PA:


(#1) From 5/11; note the sign “Drive Thru / God Bless / America”; Maple Donuts has 4 locations in the York PA area, and it’s not clear which one appears in any particular Zippy strip, or whether Bill Griffith has created cartoon amalgams of them; and note the title “Covfefe Break”


(#2) From 5/15, specifically on the noun toroid ‘geometric figure resembling a torus’

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The predictable blend error

March 24, 2020

It was bound to happen: the parts of

COVID-19 and coronavirus

were going to get mixed, to yield

CORVID-19

And, yes, then we see ravens, ravens of death.

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Warren swings (like a gecko tail do)

February 20, 2020

What I heard from an MSNBC announcer, about Elizabeth Warren at the 2/19/20 Democratic candidates’ debate:

She came out swinging from the gecko.

I had this moment of visualizing Warren, her hands firmly grasping the gecko’s tail above her, swinging vigorously from side to side, like a fiercely determined pendulum.

Then of course I realized that what the announcer had said was

She came out swinging from the get-go.

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Chart pie

November 14, 2019

The Wayno/Piraro Bizarro collabo from the 9th:


(#1) If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 2 in this strip — see this Page. Meanwhile, the pie segments run through the flavors in the order named, clockwise from the pumpkin segment at the top.

Transpositional wordplay of an especially simple sort, involving a two-word expression, with X Y ~ Y X — in this case taking off from a conventional N + N compound, the metaphorical  pie chart ‘chart resembling a pie’, and reversing the parts to yield the novel, and entertaining, (also metaphorical) compound chart pie ‘pie resembling a chart’.

The model expression pie chart refers to an object familiar in our culture, while the play expression chart pie refers to something novel and surprising: a pie made up of segments drawn from various different pies. Not a combination or mixed pie, like the familiar strawberry rhurbarb pie — a kind of hybrid pie — but instead a composite (‘made up of various parts or elements’ (NOAD) or chimerical pie, with distinct parts taken from different pies. (On chimeras, see my 11/13 posting “The chimera of Faneuil Hall”.)

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Comedic NomConjObj

November 12, 2019

Tell it to Kim. Tell it to me. Tell it to Kim and I.

The new paradigm for case-marking of pronouns, including the nominative conjoined object (NomConjObj) in to Kim and I — now judged to be the correct form by a large population of young, educated American speakers, as against the judgments of older speakers, who use instead accusative conjoined objects (AccConjObj), as in to Kim and me.

Entertainingly, the new paradigm is evidenced in tv comedies in which grammatically fastidious characters freely use NomConjObj and even admonish those who use AccConjObj.

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