Archive for the ‘Figurative language’ Category

Where is your bathroom?

June 20, 2021

A comic gem from the very first episode (“Give Me a Ring Sometime”) of the American tv show Cheers (S1 E1 9/30/82).  An exchange (call it the D&C exchange) between the character Diane — at this point, merely a patron sitting in the bar Cheers — and Coach, the bartender on duty:

Diane to Coach: Excuse me. Where is your bathroom?

Coach in response : Uh, next to my bedroom.

The character Coach  turns out to be empathetic and warm-hearted, but regrettably slow and defective at calculating people’s intentions in speaking as they do. In this brief exchange with Diane, Coach is faced with several linked tasks in understanding deictic elements: the locative deixis in where, the person deixis in your.

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Pandering to the bass

June 6, 2021

About a Wayno/Piraro Bizarro from 5/29, which turns on the title phrase pandering to the bass being understood as a pun:


(#1) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 6 in this strip — see this Page.)

We are to understand pandering to the bass as a pun on pandering to the base (which has become a stock expression in political contexts), and, given the image and text of the cartoon, as involving bass (/bes/ rather than /bæs/) ‘someone who plays the bass guitar in a rock band’ (rather than in one of 7 or 8 other possible senses).

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With knitted brows

May 3, 2021

(Significantly about sex between men, often in street language, so thoroughly unsuitable for kids and the sexually modest.)

On 5/1, e-mail from HUNT magazine (which hawks gay video porn) featuring a new bareback release, Show Hard, all about t-room / tearoom sexual encounters — a recurrent theme on this blog (there’s a Page on postings about sex in public, especially focused on t-room sex). I’ll take up the flick (and its name) later in this posting.

But on viewing the still from the first scene of Show Hard in the mailing — muscle hunk Beau Butler getting pronged on a mensroom sink by equally hunky Sean Maygers — what really caught my eye wasn’t the sexual action, arousing though that is, but the expression on Butler’s face. One that is so common that we have a name for it in English: knitted / knit (eye)brows. It turns out that there’s more than one physical gesture that is so called; and also, unsurprisingly, that this family of gestures can convey a variety of affects. Also that there are a number of other closely related gestures, with a collection of vocabulary that refers to them; it’s a rich domain of meaning.

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Zippy’s pod-ophilia

April 25, 2021

In today’s (4/25) Zippy strip, our Pinhead — no podophile ‘foot fetishist’ — instead celebrates the linguistic formative pod — as a word, in one of its many meanings (here, its ‘small building’ sense); as part of a fixed expression pod people (using pod referring to a plant part); and as piece of the word podcast (where it’s a piece of the proper name iPod, and that takes it back to a functional unit on an aircraft or spacecraft):


(#1) There’s more, lots more, but the pods here are all trace back.in metaphorical flourishes, to the plant parts

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Mind-Blowing Theories

April 21, 2021

Tom Gauld cartoons from New Scientist magazine, in a 2020 collection:

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— with three cartoons that especially caught my interest. One  on science vs. journalism over de-extinction (already posted on this blog); one on the agony of Science Hell, the scene of eternal scientific mansplaining; and one on the adverbial literally understood literally (which then provides the title for the 2020 book).

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The columnist

April 15, 2021

Today’s Zippy strip, with an unconventional sense of columnist:

(#1)

Not someone who writes a column for publication, but a collector of columns, the architectural features — like a philatelist, but with pillars.

But then the suffix –ist is extraordinarily multifunctional.

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Mitch is always DTF

March 31, 2021

(A lot about dildos and their uses, so probably not for kids or the sexually modest.)

The mail header on today’s Daily Jocks ad. DTF was new to me, but then I’m far from plugged into things — WTF I know, but DTF not, though I guessed the F is for fuck — so I had to look it up. From NOAD:

abbreviation DTF: vulgar slang down to fuck (used, typically on dating websites or apps, to indicate that a person is willing or eager to engage in sexual activity).

(Side query: how to tell when a use of fuck is narrow — a penis is inserted in a sexcavity — and when it is pragmatically broad, conveying (in the context of the moment) merely ‘engage in sexual activity’ — for which a frequent euphemism is ‘play’, which is easily understood too broadly, as covering things short of counting as sexual activity? It’s all a delicate verbal balancing act.)

Then there’s the fact that Mitch is a dildo, so it’s a bit of a stretch to talk about Mitch as always being enthusiastically ready to fuck.

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Tramp stamps

March 30, 2021

and odalisques (with their erotic lumbar regions, aka lower backs) and rhyming disparagements (like tramp stamp and slag tag). It starts with the Zits comic strip of 3/26:


(#1) The rhyming (and disparaging) idiom tramp stamp had passed by in the fringes of my consciousness, but this strip foregrounds it

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Tom Stoppard speaks to the meat

March 24, 2021

In the New Yorker, “Tom Stoppard’s Charmed and Haunted Life: A new biography enables us to see beneath the intellectual dazzle of the playwright’s work” by Anthony Lane, in the print edition of 3/1/21:

In 2007, the playwright Tom Stoppard went to Moscow. He was there to watch over a production of his trilogy — “Voyage,” “Shipwreck,” and “Salvage,” collectively known as “The Coast of Utopia.” The trilogy had opened in London in 2002, and transferred to Lincoln Center in 2006. Now, in a sense, it was coming home. The majority of the characters, though exiled, are from Russia (the most notable exception being a German guy named Karl Marx), and, for the first time, they would be talking in Russian, in a translation of Stoppard’s text. Ever courteous, he wanted to be present, during rehearsals, to offer notes of encouragement and advice. These were delivered through an interpreter, since Stoppard speaks no Russian. One day, at lunch, slices of an anonymous meat were produced, and Stoppard asked what it was. “That is,” somebody said, seeking the correct English word, “language.”

Since this is a blog mostly about language, you have no doubt seen where that answer came from.

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By their consumer products you shall know them

March 11, 2021

The Zippy strip from two days ago (3/9) on the roadside culture of working-class (and largely white and male) North America:


(#1) By their consumer products you shall know them: gas, energy drinks, cigarettes, lottery tickets, candy, batteries, beef jerky — “everything anyone could ever need”

The strip is dominated by the Irving gas station, with its accompanying Mainway convenience store. Irving Mainway, which looks and sounds like a man’s name, and so has taken on  lives of its own. Beyond the gasoline from Irving, Mainway can offer Red Bull, motor oil, smokes, and maybe a frozen burrito.

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