Archive for the ‘Figurative language’ Category

Exercises in high macho style

December 11, 2017

Passing between channels on my tv on the 6th, I caught a moment from the show Mr. Robot (S3 E9) in which Terry Colby, an exec at the Allsafe Corporation, spins out a riff in high-macho figurative language, a piece of crude poetry:

That’s all teddy bears and hand jobs, but what are your financials?  We can’t wake up one day and find ourselves tits up, dicks blowing in the breeze.

The masterstroke in all this is all teddy bears and hand jobs, an invention intended to convey an ironic, dismissive version of the high-toned all sweetness and light or, better, the vernacular all beer and skittles ‘all fun and pleasure’ (skittles, the game of ninepins)

(more…)

sharp, sour

November 8, 2017

My morning name from a few weeks ago was the technical term oxytone. From NOAD2:

adj. oxytone: (especially in ancient Greek) having an acute accent on the last syllable.

with an etymology < Gk. ὀξύτονος, oxýtonos, ‘sharp-sounding’. with the first of our ‘sharp’ elements in modern English: OXY, oxy– (from Greek) or oxi– (from Latin).

As a prosodic term in Greek, it’s part of the set:

oxytone – paroxytone – proparoxytone

corresponding to the more familiar Latin terms:

ultimate – penultimate – antepenultimate

— that is,

final, last – next to last, second from the end – third from the end

OXY is familiar from the rhetorical term oxymoron < Gk. ὀξύς oksús ‘sharp, keen, pointed’ + μωρός mōros ‘dull, stupid, foolish’ — as it were, ‘sharp-dull’, referring to apparently contradictory combinations of expressions.

But wait, there’s more!

(more…)

From the great Anatomic War

November 8, 2017

Q: Did they ever have anatomic war?
A: Have you never heard of the great Anatomic War and one of its signal encounters, the 1346 Battle of Extremities, in which the Phalanges, with their long bones, overwhelmed the armored Carpals and Metacarpals?

(#1) Phalanges shooting down the Carpal and Metacarpal forces

(more…)

In a bun, in a bun!

November 5, 2017

Today’s Bizarro:

(#1)

(If you’re puzzled by the odd symbol in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there’s just one in this strip — see this Page.)

Hairstyles; baked goods, including buns, rolls, and loaves; buttocks; and of course Monty Python’s lupin(e) bandit Dennis Moore

(more…)

Can you say “cat”? Can you spell “cat”?

November 4, 2017

Two recent One Big Happy strips:

(#1) Can you say … “cat”… um, “sheepshank”?

The Mister Rogers trope Can you say X? ‘Say X’ (in a pedagogical tone); idiomatic go/get (all) X on Y

(#2) Can you spell “cat”?

Spanish ‘yes’ vs. English /si/ C (the letter of the alphabet); linguistic and natural mean; and more.

(more…)

Three more pumpkin-spicy bits

October 26, 2017

On the 23rd, “The pumpkin spice cartoon meme”, with a variety of developments of pumpkin spice ‘spice for pumpkin (pie)’ to concrete uses for the flavor of such spice and the scent of such spice and then to figurative uses ‘special, extraordinary’ and from there ‘top-grade’. Now, some further developments:

The possibility that Pumpkin Spice might be a Spice Girl (Michael Palmer asks on Facebook, “Which of the Spice Girls is Pumpkin Spice?”).

More generally, the rule of thumb: if spice, then pumpkin spice, as in this playful e-card:

(#1) The verb spice up > pumpkin spice up

And, as also illustrated in #1, the metonymical extension of pumpkin spice to ‘autumnal’ (thanks to the association of the spice with the fall).

(more…)

Political wagyu

October 13, 2017

The gustatory-political text for today:

Rage against the media is political Wagyu for the president’s base. (NYT, “[REDACTED]’s Attacks on the Press: Telling Escalation From Empty Threats” by Michael M. Grynbaum on 10/12/17 on-line)

(more…)

Noodling with formulaic language

October 6, 2017

Today is National Noodle Day. Yes, an event fabricated by people in the food indusry to showcase their products and sell them, on a date no doubt chosen only because it hadn’t already been claimed by any other food. But noodles are delicious, they’re multicultural, and they’re fun.

I celebrated the occasion at lunch with some porcini mushroom and truffle triangoli (stuffed ravioli, but triangular rather than square) from Trader Joe’s, with arrabiatta sauce (a spicy tomato sauce). Pasta in English food talk for Italian food, but  noodles in English food talk for Chinese (and other East Asian and Southeast Asian) food — so today they’re noodles to me. (I recommend a broadminded view on what counts as noodles.)

I also recommend that we adopt a symbolic figure for the occasion, something like the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, Halloween pumpkins and witches, Pilgrims for Thanksgiving, the New Year baby, and so on. I suggest the Flying Spaghetti Monster, with his noodly appendages.

But first let’s get down to some recent noodling with formulaic expressions in the comics: One Big Happy (an idiom), Rhymes With Orange (a frequent collocation or an idiom, depending on who you read), and Mother Goose and Grimm (a proverb):

(more…)

The Amelioration formula

October 5, 2017

A recent instance, from Baltimore Sun copyeditor John McIntyre on Facebook today:

At the desk. Converting defective prose into the merely mediocre since 1980.

An earlier parallel, from Sigmund Freud’s Studies on Hysteria (1895) (co-written with Josef Breuer), as translated by Nicola Luckhurst (2004):

But you will see for yourself that much has been gained if we succeed in turning your hysterical misery into common unhappiness.

A snowclonic figure of speech, Amelioration of Awful to Ordinary (Amelioration, for short), of the form:

Transformation-Verb Awful (in)to Ordinary

(with transformation verb transform, turn, change, convert, make, rework, etc.)

(more…)

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

(more…)