Archive for the ‘Word confusions’ Category

Appetizer boards

October 25, 2022

A follow-up to my 10/20/22 posting “The Funny Aperitif Board”, with its entertaining word confusion between appetizer and aperitif — but now getting serious about the two categories involved in the compound appetizer board:

the foodstuff category to which appetizers belong (call it SMALL-START-FOOD);

and the implement category to which food-service boards and platters belong (call it FOOD-SERVER-THING)

I’ll put off the funny part — the (intentionally) phallic appearance of the appetizer board in question — for a third posting in this series, taking off from my 9/11/22 posting “Plush life” (with its distinction between four modes of phallicity). But before we go on to ransack the modern English lexicon, let’s stop to appreciate the inspiration for all of this, the Grassooze appetizer board, laden with meal-preliminary foodstuffs:


The Funny Aperitif Board

October 20, 2022

This is today’s Mary, Queen of Scots Not Dead Yet posting. I am overwhelmed by piles of undone things, but suffering from deep exhaustion (no doubt a consequence of the most recent jigglings with my medications). I am posting in a brief period (during which I’ve had salmon teriyaki and edamame gyoza delivered for sustenance) between long stretches of stunned unconsciousness.

I offer you, without critical comment (analysis to come in a later, more thoughtful posting), this remarkable Grassooze Services ad on Facebook back on 9/11:

Funny Aperitif Board on sale for $24.99
⭐Who says size doesn’t matter? With an illusionary length of 40 cm, this magnificent penis with perfect curves will keep all its promises
… One day, a great sage said, “Don’t let anyone convince you that your dreams are too big, buy a board in the shape of a penis.”


tenure, tenor, tenner

June 15, 2021

The One Big Happy cartoon from 5/21, in which the word tenor (which is apparently unfamiliar to Ruthie) leads Ruthie to a word with a similar pronunciation, whose meaning she knows (at least approximately) — tenure:

(#1) I got tenure at Ohio State in 1970, but the singing boyfriend didn’t come along until years later

That’s an error taking us from tenor to tenure. Meanwhile, on the comedy stage, a pun takes us from tenner to tenor.


Ruthian lexical items in real life

February 3, 2019

In a private corner of Facebook today, this family exchange:

Child A was very busy.
Parent about A: He has an agenda
Child A: I’m not a gender
Parent: An agenda is when you have something you want to do
Child B: A gender is someone who serves food at baseball games
Parent: That’s a vendor
Child C *dies laughing*

And then from another parent:

My kid was so proud she tried cantaloupe at school. “The fruit, not the animal”


Annals of word retrieval: in promiscuous positions

November 4, 2018

(Warning: embedded in this posting is a bit of — just barely euphemized — taboo vocabulary and the image of a hunky guy in his underwear.)

From Sim Aberson on 10/29, from WSVN, channel 7 in Miami FL:

BSO deputies arrest Dania Beach man in child porn case

Dania Beach, Fla. (WSVN) – Deputies have arrested a Dania Beach man on numerous child pornography charges.

The Broward Sheriff’s Office arrested 66-year-old Roger Aiudi on Thursday following a months-long investigation by the agency’s Internet Crimes Against Children task force. Investigators said Aiudi had 13 pornographic images of children and dozens of other images showing children in promiscuous positions.

Well yes, not promiscuous ‘having or characterized by many transient sexual relationships’, but provocative ‘arousing sexual desire or interest, especially deliberately’ (NOAD definitions). This is a very likely sort of word retrieval error, since the words are similar phonologically (sharing the accent pattern WSWW and sharing the initial syllable /prǝ/) and morphologically (both ending in Adj-forming suffixes, –ous vs. –ive) as well as semantically.


Two word confusion cartoons

October 13, 2018

The One Big Happy in today’s feed (from 9/16) and the Zippy for today: Nat the name (short for Nathaniel) vs. gnat the insect, both /næt/; and Superfund (‘ a US federal government program designed to fund the cleanup of toxic wastes’ (NOAD)) vs. superfun (‘great fun’, with the prefix super– ‘great, large’), with /fʌnd/ vs. /fʌn/, but usually leveled to the latter via final t/d-deletion before a word beginning with a consonant (here, before the word site):



July 11, 2018

Two items from early in June. First, the Zippy strip from June 2nd, a hymn to the 1957 Nash Metropolitan (a genuinely cute car, unlike current models, with their angry grilles):


Then, following a brief June 1st Facebook posting by grizzled copyeditor John McIntyre (of the Baltimore Sun) —

Yesterday: “pallet” for “palette.” Today: “palate” for “palette.”

— this complaint from UK copyeditor LS:

I’ve done a series of seven novels for an author [AZ: call him Auth] who can’t keep the differen[ce] between grille and grill in his head. And he uses it several times per story. And yes, I’ve told him – and it’s in every single word list I send him. I guess we all have a blind spot. Or maybe he’s doing it on purpose now, to wind me up!

LS’s report is characteristic of everyday reports about the way others use language: people describe usage in vague, abstract generalizations (“Sandy gets words mixed up”); they’re inclined to treat usages via their import for them (“Sandy insulted me”); and they are inclined to talk about what others can’t do rather than what they actually do (“Sandy can’t pronounce r”) . From such reports, we can’t tell what Sandy says, in what circumstances. We don’t know what Auth writes in what circumstances, beyond that it has something to do with the spellings grill and grille. John McIntyre’s report, in contrast, is quite clear; we might go on to investigate why one of his authors wrote pallet where palette would be standard, and another wrote palate where palette would be standard, but at least we have some facts to go on.


A classic word confusion

June 12, 2018

On the 9th, from reader Timothy Young, this screen shot from the Los Angeles Times:

(#1) The original, with the verb enervated


Movies and tv: ethnic versatility (Nouri)

May 24, 2016

(Only a little about language — but one in a series on movies and tv and on race and ethnicity.)

Watching an NCIS re-run recently, I reflected, not for the first time, on the actor Michael Nouri in the role of Eli David, director of Israeli Mossad, thinking, “Wait! Isn’t Nouri Lebanese?” So, it turns out, he is, though his Wikipedia page and his own website don’t mention this, providing only minimal personal information about the man (his birthdate and place), concentrating otherwise entirely on his acting career.

In any case, another chapter in the great story of Ethnic Versatility: one actor of Mediterranean ancestry (or looking like such a person, as many Latins do, or simply having a dark complexion) can play the role of any other. Lebanese-American? Hey, you’ll be fine as an Israeli Jew, with some dialect coaching. You already look the part.


Wrestling with gay porn

January 6, 2016

This is a follow-up to something I just posted on AZBlogX, “Wrestling match”, about a piece of gay porn from the C1R studio, more specifically about the first scene (of three) in the new sports-oriented porn flick Stuff It In The Hole: Take It For The Team 2, a scene about (Greco-Roman) wrestling. With totally X-rated images of the pornstars Braxton Smith and Javier Cruz, plus discussion of their characteristics as a couple and of the sex they engage in. Here I have four (non-X-rated) things to post about: the genre of wrestling porn, and three linguistic observations: about the title of the flick and about two errors in the ad copy that C1R distributed about the film — one either some kind of malapropism or a word confusion, the other probably a simple typo.