Archive for the ‘Figurative language’ Category

Folk ethology: wolves

January 14, 2022

Recently come past me, two metaphorical uses of wolf (and wolf-related vocabulary) that get their punch from common lore about wolves and their behavior: one from a particular sociocultural context in which men have sex with other men; one from a different particular sociocultural context in which men relate socially to women and other men. The first context is from working-class Harlem of the 1920s; the second from recent alpha male self-help / self-improvement literature aimed at striving American middle-class, largely professional, men.

The first case, which involves labels for particular categories of male-male sexuality, will require some care, since the labels are so bound to specific contexts and are mostly drawn from ordinary language, but used in specialized ways. You might appreciate this last point better when I tell you that a rough synonym for the 20s Harlem male-male label wolf was man — which obviously must in this context be understood as metaphorical (some males in this context were men; other males were either punks or fairies); more on these label vs. category complexities below.

(more…)

Dioramas of Phallusia

December 12, 2021

More gay home decor, this time from the three penis-oriented dioramas in my bedroom, two of them incorporating recently acquired play figures with prominent dicks in places not provided in nature — see my 12/10 posting “Enhanced phallicity” — so far,  doubly phallic tyrannosauruses, brontosauruses, elephants, and bananas.

Advance warning: simulacra of penises, in considerable abundance. Most of them frankly silly, but they’re indisputably phalloid, and so not to everyone’s taste. Eventually there will also be some references to sex between men.

Further warning. The photos were shot with a minimally adequate camera (in my venerable iPad), in my unsteady hands, and in the drastically poor lighting of my bedroom, so the wretched images can do no more than give you a feel for the dioramas.

(more…)

The photoon from Satilla Shores

December 9, 2021

On Facebook on 11/23, Charlie Fulton offered this photoon — a photograph intended as a cartoon — and provided it with a caption, in this case a brief text expressing a personal opinion of his about some event, not depicted in the photoon, without any explicit connection between the event and the photograph. So Charlie’s captioned photoon takes a ton of context and background knowledge to appreciate, but (in my opinion) it’s very cleverly bitter (measured bitterness being a CF specialty).

The photoon, with Charlie’s caption:


(#1) [CF:] Ah, the clever “toenail defense” tactic. I should have seen it coming.

The only really easy part of the comprehension exercise is recognizing the objects in #1 as the edible seeds — known in English as Brazil nuts — of the Bertholletia excelsa tree  (native to South America).

(more…)

Lumber linguistics

December 4, 2021

Today’s Zippy strip takes exploits the giant hammer outside the Ford Lumber Co. in Fort Washington MD to skitter over language-related matters — the metaphorical character of many common idioms, the innateness of language (abilities), natural language ontology — to lodge in a fixation on food that Zippy finds intrinsically funny (in this case, egg creams and V-8 juice):


(#1) Zippy’s attributions are a bit wonky — it’s Lakoff, not Chomsky, who hammers on the centrality of metaphor, though linguistic nativism is indeed a Chomskyan preoccupation — but then Zippy’s a surrealistic Pinhead, not a pinhead professor, and anyway, you say linguist, the popular mind thinks Chomsky, so Zippy has his finger on the pulse of the people here (even if ontology pours into egg creams for him and even if he seems to be hammered on V-8)

Meanwhile, there’s the news from Fort Washington MD.

(more…)

Break, break, break

December 1, 2021

🐇 🐇 🐇 In the 11/2 One Big Happy, Joe fails to honor a promise, which of course makes Ruthie think about hyphenating printed text:

(#1)

NOAD on the verb break (Joe: sense 3a; Ruthie: sense 1a) and the noun word (Joe: sense 3b; Ruthie: sense 1a):

verb break:

1 [a] separate or cause to separate into pieces …

… 3 [with object] [a] fail to observe (a law, regulation, or agreement)

noun word:

1 [a] a single distinct meaningful element of speech or writing, used with others (or sometimes alone) to form a sentence and typically shown with a space on either side when written or printed

… 3 (one’s word) [a] one’s account of the truth, especially when it differs from that of another person: in court it would have been his word against mine. [b] a promise or assurance: everything will be taken care of — you have my word. …

(more…)

Mr. Nutz sez …

November 30, 2021

… “Pull my tail, and see my eye light up!” Mr. Nutz is a squirrel of brass, also a notorious flasher (if you don’t pull his tail, he’ll do it himself, in the road) — all at once a squirrel, a brass sculpture, a flasher, and a flashlight too (alas, though he tries to be all things to all people, he is neither a floor wax nor a dessert topping). The eye in his brass face lights up lewdly to show us the way to squirrel verse #2:

We’ll walk in the light, beautiful light,
Come where the dew-drops of morning are bright;
Shine all around us by day and by night,
Squirrels, the light of the world.

(Truly, no squirrel’s light was ever hidden under a basket. Mr. Nutz is not only brazen and bawdy, but also bold and boastful. And, he truly believes, beautiful.)

(more…)

Gilligan’s aisle

October 9, 2021

The 10/2 Wayno/Piraro Bizarro:


(#1) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 4 in this strip — see this Page.)

A pun on isle ‘island’ vs. aisle ‘a passage between shelves of goods in a supermarket or other building’ (aisle sense b in NOAD (below)). But none of this makes any sense unless you know significant details of an American tv comedy from about 55 years ago: Gilligan’s Island (1964-67), in particular, that the show was about seven castaways from a shipwreck, including the goofy Gilligan, attempting to survive on a tropical island. Hence the tropical fruit-flavored rums and liqueurs. (It’s a nice subtle touch that the cartoon Gilligan appears to be lost in his attempt to choose a bottle.)

So: Gilligan’s aisle … Gilligan’s Isle … Gilligan’s Island.

(more…)

9/9: not a non-event

September 9, 2021

(Astonishingly, this silly posting will devolve into references to male pubes (NOAD entertains both /pjúbìz/ and /pjubz/ as pronunciations, by the way, so do as thou wilt) and photos of hunky young men stripped down to them, so it’s not to everyone’s taste.)

It is once again Negation Day, a festival for semanticists, also customarily the day for the annual convention of No Joke, aka the Society for Language Play.

This year, the semanticists will gather en masse at the Square of Opposition, where a statue of Larry Horn, caught in mid-smile, will be unveiled; and in collaboration with the No Joke meeting, there will be staged performances of Monty Python’s “Argument Clinic” sketch. Then, as usual: a clinic for those suffering from overnegation and undernegation; and a bazaar where shoppers can rummage for negative polarity items and reinforcements for their everyday negatives. (Just Don’t Do It: because of ugly incidents in the past, metalinguistic negatives have been banned from the festival site.)

(more…)

Pretty in neon pink

August 26, 2021

(Generally on the raunchy side, though not actually obscene — but too heavy with sex toys (including some truly alarming dildos) and anal talk for kids and the sexually modest, who should stay away.)

Very late for one of my favorite holidays, National Underwear Day (8/5), this Daily Jocks ad on 8/25:


(#1) [ad copy:] Get party ready with the DJX Trough Jockstrap. Featuring a dual-layered breathable pouch, which is as soft to the touch as it is enhancing. You won’t want to take these off. [oh honey, yes you will, yes you will]

First, some AMZ verse; then an olla podrida of neon pink jockstrap-related topics.

(more…)

Dim views

August 14, 2021

It starts with this Nat Rodgers composition, given to me by my little family because it features a penguin (one of my totem animals) along with text:


(#1) A penguin who takes a dim view of those who look down on others, and suggests an aggressive counter-measure

Rodgers does artwork in a number of series, on several wildly different themes. The theme here is vexation — the dim views — and its response, typically either aggressive or contemptuous.

(more…)