Archive for the ‘Figurative language’ Category

Figurative language to the rescue

September 24, 2016

The One Big Happy in my comics feed this morning (apparently from August 23rd):


Here, Ruthie doesn’t know (or has forgotten) the precise lexical item turban, so she uses figurative language to get a descriptive term. To understand this, you need to know about Jiffy Pop, of course.


Advances in the fast food world

August 9, 2016

An announcement in my Facebook feed this morning, from Adverising Age yesterday:

Burger King Introduces Whopperito, a Whopper Burrito: Tex-Mex Mashup to Be Sold Nationally From Aug. 15

Burger King’s latest new item is taking a cue from Chipotle Mexican Grill, which is still reeling from a string of foodborne illness outbreaks.

The Whopperito, which puts Whopper burger ingredients like beef, tomatoes, onions, lettuce and pickles inside a flour tortilla, will be sold nationally beginning Aug. 15 [after marketing trials in Pennsylvania]. A queso sauce replaces the mayonnaise from the hamburger.

I had two reactions. One, that the Whopperito as described in AdAge is very close to my conception of an American burrito, with (possibly) only the tomatoes and pickles outside the usual list of ingredients, though with beans (or refried beans) crucially absent, so the thing hardly looks like a hybrid food (Whopper plus burrito), but more like a stunted variant of a burrito — but then this is advertising (for Burger King, home of the Whopper), not food studies. Two, that althugh the name could be construed as a portmanteau (Whopper + burrito, with the shared r indicated by underlining), the first interpretation I got of the name was that it was a diminutive of Whopper, in –ito, that is, as ‘little Whopper’ — an oxymoron if I ever saw one.

Then I discovered that AdAge had spelled the name wrong. It’s Whopperrito, much more clearly a portmanteau.


Two cat cartoons

July 9, 2016

Not quite what you think. Two cartoons: a Mother Goose and Grimm from yesterday, today’s Bizarro:



To appreciate #1, you need to know about the custom of putting out a cat for the night (V + Prt put out ‘put sth. outside (a house)’), and you need to recognize the piece of heavy earth-moving equipment in the room, with brand names Caterpilllar and (clipped) Cat.

To appreciate #2, you need to know that Zeus / Jupiter is the mythological hurler of thunderbolts, and you need to recognize Dr. Seuss’s Cat in the Hat (with one of his accompanying Things) and to see that the figure in the cartoon is a hybrid of Zeus and Dr. Seuss’s Cat, a combination conveyed by the portmanteau name Dr. Zeuss.


The Adventure of the Morning Napoleons

July 6, 2016

Today’s morning name (welling up during my sleep from who knows where) was mille-feuille, the pastry.



The 31-room elephant in the room

July 5, 2016

Today’s Zippy, with 19th-century novelty architecture:



Rugrat regrets

July 2, 2016

The morning name from two days ago, a bit of language play, with the repeated pattern

r … gr … t  r … gr … t

apparently invented in my sleeping head rather than remembered from previous experience. The whole thing is a N + N compound, and as such, is capable of a range of interpretations — primarily in two broad classes: with an object interpretation of rugrats, ‘regrets about / over rugrats’, on various accounts; and with a subject interpretation of rugrats, ‘regrets of / by rugrats’, also on various accounts.

Then there’s the first element of the compound, itself a N + N compound, composed of rug + rat literally ‘rat located on, inhabiting a rug”, but with rat understood metaphorically (referring to small children as rat-like creatures) and rug understood metonymically (referring to household play surfaces more generally). The result is a colorful way of referring to toddlers, with the verminous connotations of rat apparently bleached out by playfulness.


Leaving, in tears and a portmanteau

June 25, 2016

Passed on by Facebook friends (especially Arthur Prokosch), this Dan Wasserman editorial cartoon in the Boston Globe on the 16th:

Here we are in Portmantexia, a land of words in –exit, –leave, and –out, a land that people want to abandon. The leading family in Portmantexia is the Exits, especially the recently prominent Brexit, towering above cousins Grexit, Crexit, the infant Trexit, the black sheep Texit, and the newborns Nexit and Frexit.


The literalist on Fathers Day

June 9, 2016

Fathers Day comes on the 19th. For the occasion, a Tom Toro cartoon that didn’t get into my earlier posting about him:

Well, there can be literally only one greatest dad in the world, but then not all language is literal — as in this case, where the sentiment on the mug is a piece of hyperbole, exaggeration for effect.


Lawyers, Gubs and Monkeys

May 3, 2016

My grand-daughter Opal arrived for breakfast on Saturday with a book she immediately immersed herself in. Not a children’s book, not a book of cartoons, but instead an entertaining 2015 book by jurist William W. Bedsworth about amazing legal cases — which Opal and her mother sampled for me as breakfast went on:



The masturbation sleeve

April 30, 2016

(The subject line should warn readers about the content to follow. There will be linguistics, and also music, but there’s no denying the sexual content, which might make some readers uncomfortable.)

Yesterday, in talking about a comic in the first issue of the publication Meatmen, I noted that in this strip,

blow jobs (by mouth or Accu-Jac) and hand jobs abound

referring to an electrically-operated male masturbation device, via a trade name variously spelled (here, I used the spelling most familiar to me, but it seems that the trade name is, or at least was, Accujac). Much to talk about here — male masturbation devices, spellings, the name Accujac, the expression jack off, the noun orifice, and more. But, in recognition of recent events, I’ll start with Prince.