Archive for the ‘Figurative language’ Category

Two from 9/8

September 23, 2017

… in the September 8th issue of the New Yorker. Both presenting the usual challenges to understanding — there’s a lot you have to know to make sense of them — and both playing on language.

(#1) by Jeremy Nguyen

(#2) by John McNamee

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Nazis and neo-Nazis

August 21, 2017

Discussions on many Facebook pages about the use of the term neo-Nazis to refer to marchers in Charlottesville VA on August 12, with their swastikas, torch-marching, Hitler salutes, chanting anti-Jewish slogans and “Blood and Soil” (Blut und Boden) — plus specifically American touches like the Confederate battle flag, KKK hoods, and open displays of assault rifles. Some participants in these discussions maintained with some passion that they called the marchers Nazis, because that’s what they were.

I can’t of course legislate how people talk — but if you want both accuracy and punch, neo-Nazi is the way to go.

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cut the bill in half

August 20, 2017

Yesterday’s Mother Goose and Grimm:

An ambiguity in the verb cut, combined with two metonymically related uses of the noun bill.

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An urban jungle

August 19, 2017

Back on the 12th, I posted about the “War of the Weeds” in back of the Palo Alto downtown library, across the street from my house: a contest between common ivy, ailanthus, and golden bamboo for control of the territory. Now I have better photos, showing the whole length of the jungle, in three sections, without cars.

Meanwhile, at the Y where I go to my senior fitness class, there’s a whole rank of California peppertrees covered with red berries, and with leaves already turning for the fall.

All this caused me to delve into the notion of an urban jungle. Turns out different people have very different ideas about what that phrase refers to, and that exploration will take us to Hong Kong, Chongqing, urban gardening, and “wild” parks in various cities, including the Ramble in NYC’s Central Park — with Al Pacino in full gay cruise mode.

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Words as weapons, images as ideas

August 6, 2017

Illustrators go to war:

(#1) Hoover Memorial Exhibit Pavilion, Stanford, 4/5/17 – 9/2/17

Visited on July 19th, with Juan Gomez. Extensive report follows.

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Superficial oxymorons

July 21, 2017

A John Atkinson Wrong Hands cartoon:

An assortment of expressions (almost all Adj + N) that might at first glance seem to be internally contradictory — that is, oxymorons — but which are nevertheless sensical.

It would be a useful exercise to go through these examples and show how they gain their meaning.

(Note: there is now a Page on this blog on John Atkinson cartoons.)

More news not for penises

July 5, 2017

Start with this little poem, “Spurring him on”, which seems to be heavily sexual:

Hotspur Cockspur:
Thorny, horny, over-
Heated prick.
Spiky, showy dandy,
Sharply tipped.

Actually, this is a continuation of my 2/4/16 posting “Some news not for penises”, which was about senses of cock that aren’t about penises, and it’s mostly about plants, a whole hell of a lot of plants, some of them with sharp thorns (like spurs) that will prick you, some of them with showy spikes (like a rooster’s comb), all of them with cock in one of their common names. So, what with the noun cock, the phallic spurs, and the phallic combs, the topic fairly drips with male sexuality — but this posting is not about men’s bodies or mansex. It’s mostly about birds and plants, plus some vintage dandies and Sir Henry Percy.

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Put a sock on it in parade season

June 26, 2017

(There will be discussions of men’s naughty bits and pictures of these barely covered. Sometimes celebratory, sometimes silly, but not at all (I think) arousing. Still, if that’s not you want to read or see, pass on to something else.)

It began with this arresting photo from Carson Link on the Stealthy Cam Men Facebook site on the 24th, dated “Yesterday New York, NY” [that is, on the 23rd]:

(#1)

Link’s text:

Caught him off guard they were getting ready for a parade from the E. Village [Tompkins Square Park] to the West Village

If Link has the dates right, then this was the annual NYC Drag March, from Tompkins Square Park to the Stonewall Inn (note the guy in heels on the left) — though the central figure in the photo looks like he came from the June 11th Body Pride Parade (also annual), from Tompkins Square Park to Washington Square Park, and everyone in the photo looks like they’d find a place in the big Pride Parade on the 25th (for which there are many sub-celebrations).

In any case, Sock Man on Parade is, um, remarkable, as a piece of living sculpture, if nothing else.

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You can dress a fox in hen’s clothing, but…

June 11, 2017

… you’ll do better dressing a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The Rhymes With Orange from the 9th:

Wolves and sheep share a basic body pattern (four legs, tail, etc.), but foxes and chickens diverge substantially. A wolf might pass for a sheep, but not a fox for a hen.

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Rodeos and sword dances

May 27, 2017

(Warning: there will be talk of penises and mansex.)

On The Hill site on 5/21, “Tillerson: ‘Not my first sword dance’ in Saudi Arabia”, by Jill Manchester:

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Sunday that his sword dance the previous night in Saudi Arabia was not his first.

“I hadn’t been practicing, Chris, but it was not my first sword dance,” Tillerson told Fox News Sunday’s Chris Wallace.

Tillerson and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross linked arms during the dance with Saudi performers on Saturday night. [REDACTED] also took part, swaying to the music, and appeared to enjoy the ceremonial dance. The event took place on [REDACTED]’s first day visiting Saudi Arabia, his first stop on his first foreign trip as president.

(#1)

Ross and Tillerson sword-dancing among Saudis

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