Archive for the ‘Figurative language’ Category

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]:

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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.

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Ross and Tillerson sword-dancing among Saudis

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A failure of parallelism, sort of

May 22, 2017

In this headline from the 21st:

The crucial part is the NP

(PA) child- and gang-rapes

a reduced variant of the coordination child rapes and gang rapes — with rapes “factored out” of the full coordination, leaving the two-conjunct constituent child and gang. What gives this reduced coordination the whiff of non-parallelism is the difference in the way the factor rapes is semantically related to the two conjuncts child and gang: the first conjunct, child, functions as patient, or affected participant, with the factor rapes (like a canonical syntactic object; in a child rape, someone rapes a child), while the second conjunct, gang, functions as agent, or active participant, with this factor (like a canonical syntactic subject; in a gang rape, a gang rapes someone).

The coordination of patient with agent has a mildly zeugmatic flavor. It probably adds a bit of processing difficulty to this example — and it’s certainly enough to make a linguist like me take notice of the headline.

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Marco, Marco, Marco

May 19, 2017

(Men’s underwear, but nothing hard-core.)

The Daily Jocks ad from the 9th, featuring the Marco Marco brand, with my caption:

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Maximum Marco in boxer briefs.
Middle Marco in briefs.
Minimal Marco in almost nothing,
Beyond the pecs, the abs, and the thighs,
Nothing like one another, but they’re
Totally tight —
All three for Subcomandante Marcos, the
Subcomandante for all of them.

Four things here: the Marco Marco firm, which is trés gai; the play on All for one and one for all (most famously alluding to the motto of the Three Musketeers)); the play on Marcos the plural of the personal name Marco vs. the surname Marcos; and the reference to the Zapatista leader Subcomandante Marcos. Plus a whiff of an allusion to Goldilocks and the Three Bears (Marco Midi is just right). And of course the differences in the three men’s body types.

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What is figure, what is ground?

May 8, 2017

David Sipress in the latest (May 8th) New Yorker:

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“I can’t remember—do I work at home or do I live at work?”

Which is the ground — home (living place) or workplace — and which is the figure — working or living?

A question framed in the caption as a chiasmus, abstractly of the form X … Y / Y … X?

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The maiden, the monster, and the hero

April 15, 2017

In the LGBT precinct of Facebook recently, this Jim Benton cartoon (eventually this posting will be about Benton, but first the folktale scenarios):

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The basic scenario is Beauty and the Beast: a beautiful maiden (that is, a virgin), often a princess; and a monster, a grotesque creature, either literally an animal (a gigantic ape, a dinosaur, a mutant lizard, a dragon, whatever — but male) or a man animalistic in form, sometimes in nature as well. The monster desires the maiden: to devour her (literally), to despoil her (sexually), or merely to love her (romantically).

A third character, the Knight, figures in an extended scenario: a hero, a handsome and virile young man, often in armor, often a prince, whose role is to challenge the monster in battle and overcome him, thereby rescuing the maiden — for himself; she is his prize. In the extended scenario, two males are rivals for the maiden.

In Benton’s version, the hero challenges the monster, demanding that the monster deal with him rather than the maiden. And so the monster does. Sometimes in a love triangle, the rivals become lovers. (Combat between men is sometimes a route to mutual respect, male bonding, and friendship; in this case, the relationship goes one step further.)

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snatch

April 8, 2017

(Plain sex talk of several kinds, not for kids or the sexually modest.)

Yesterday’s morning name, and it was clear to me when I woke up that this was the vulgar sexual noun snatch ‘woman’s genitals’. and not the grabbing snatch or the stealing / kidnapping snatch or the weightlifting snatch — but then it turns out they’re all related.

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