Archive for the ‘Metaphor’ Category

herd it / heard it

August 30, 2023

The pay-off to an elaborate set-up tale, giving a pun on a familiar expression (in this case a song title). From Vince the Sign Guy: Vince Rozmiarek of Indian Hills CO and (from his Facebook page) “his lighthearted puns shown on local community signs”:

Phonologically, there’s a stretch of speech that’s both I herd it through the grapevines (the pun, the pay-off from the vineyard cow story) and the nearly homophonous “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” (the model, the song title); semiotically, however, that stretch of speech is either about one of these situations or the other, not two nearly identical situations

Specifically, there’s no metaphorical structuring of the vineyard cow situation (in the story) on the basis of the information exchange situation (in the song). Their only relationship is phonological.

This isn’t a defect; most puns are merely phonological, and that’s fine. Vince Rozmiarek’s vineyard cow story is a great little joke, of a recognizable genre of punning: the set-up + pay-off story based on a formulaic expression — for short, a formula pun.

It’s just that a small number of puns are what I’ve sometimes called — I’ve wrestled a long time with ways of saying this — satisfying, meaning semiotically satisfying: the participants are represented as belonging to two worlds at once. They are anteaters, say, with the formicavore’s passionate hunger for the insects, but they are also diners in conventional American restaurants, insisting on specific kinds of table service and exhibiting dining quirks (like an aversion to spicy food). The first of these worlds is systematically mapped into the second, in an elaborate metaphor. (The restaurant-going anteaters are a recurring theme in Bizarro cartoons.)

From this month in my postings: on 8/3 “Brief shot: cock time”, about the expression cock time:

An atrocious pun [on clock time], but satisfying in that some … item is not merely introduced into a context for a near-homophone, but participates in the world of that model expression. We see something that’s a cock [a man’s penis] and a (kind of) clock.


Barthropods seeking silverfish

August 8, 2023

Today’s Wayno / Piraro Bizarro, a complex composition in which two centipedes look for bar snacks:

(#1) First bit of language play: the portmanteau barthropod = bar + arthropod, centipedes being arthropods, creatures in the gigantic phylum Arthropoda — also encompassing insects (including silverfish and springtails as well as flies, butterflies and moths, beetles, and more), spiders. crustaceans (among them, shrimp, crabs, lobsters, and barnacles), and millipedes (if you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 3 in this strip — see this Page)

Then there’s a more subtle bit of language play in silverfish serving as bar snacks in a world in which centipedes drink in bars — given that Goldfish crackers (gold fish, silver fish, bring out the bronze) are often served as bar snacks in the real world.


Sex overdrive

August 1, 2023

🐇 🐇 🐇 rabbit rabbit rabbit to inaugurate a fiery August; it’s also 🇨🇭 🇨🇭 🇨🇭 Swiss National Day, and I am wearing not only my Swiss flag shorts, but also my Switzerland t-shirt (Hail Helvetica! and all that) — meanwhile, adjustments in medication and my diet, following my nephrologist’s directions, have brought me control of my blood pressure (which was scarily low for a long time, after a previous period of being too high): right in my target zone just now (4:20 am: 126/69, with a pulse of 73 bpm — my pulse rate had also veered wildly all over the map, from highs of 110 to lows of 48 — so YAY!)

In my 7/23 posting “A recovery landmark”, I reported on the return of my high sex drive (of 70 years’ standing) after a long period of sickness (prominently including my gall bladder surgery), during which my sexual instincts lay utterly dormant; the return of sexual desire is a reliable sign of returning health, and a cause for great celebration. And, once again, regular self-pleasuring (as we say when we want to be decorous — though I note that self-pleasure, noun or verb, isn’t in NOAD or AHD5).

Now, one common consequence of a sudden change in the body’s state is a period of overshoot, an overcompensation for the pre-change suppressed state. After weeks of lassitude, your energy returns — and then, for a period, you’re hyperactive. After which you bounce back and return to a more normal state.

A few days after the reappearance of my sex drive, in the middle of the night, I went into sex overdrive, and it was awful.


Be vocal. Be visible. Be fierce.

June 3, 2023

Advice for Pride Month this year, when forces of hatred and fear, wielding harassment and intimidation, seem increasingly arrayed against LGBT+-folk, threatening our celebrations, attacking the symbols of our communities, spreading malicious disinformation about us, and acting to curtail our rights — so that we have to confront these forces publicly and fiercely. An image of resplendent, powerful, ferociously sharp-toothed pride for the occasion, covering the spectrum from intense red to vibrant purple:

(#1) From my 6/27/15 posting “Gay Pride”, with my comment: rather more adult males than you’d expect in a pride of lions — but then these are gay lions, so they bond with pleasure

(Already back then, 8 years ago, the image was clearly memic, distributed from hand to hand from an original source no one knew (or cared about); some creator crafted this remarkable image and paired it with the punning title Gay Pride — a gay pride for Gay Pride — but we’re almost surely never going to be able to identify the source. It came to me again yesterday, through another acquaintance who found it on Facebook.)

From #1 a fortuitous find enabling an associative leap to a famously savage leonine diorama. And then in another associative leap, to feasting with panthers, to big cats in general (especially those of the genus Panthera), and to gay men who are beautiful, powerful, and fierce.


bibulous (paper towels and sots)

June 1, 2023

🐇 🐇 🐇 rabbit rabbit rabbit for the 1st of June (ushering in the summer months — and Pride Month, for which even the rabbits go gay: 🏳️‍🌈 🏳️‍🌈 🏳️‍🌈)

Today’s amuse-gueule for the month is a Zippy strip (which has been hanging around on my desktop since it appeared in 10/14/19) in which the notoriously onomastomanic Zippy savors the word bibulous for the delights of its meaning a well as its pronunciation:

From NOAD: adj, bibulousformal excessively fond of drinking alcohol. ORIGIN late 17th century (in the sense ‘absorbent’): from Latin bibulus ‘freely or readily drinking’ (from bibere ‘to drink’) + –ous.

So we’ve got a specialization of drinking up to drinking alcohol; plus a metaphorical view of drinking up to refer to absorbency (paper towels drink up spills) — but the (older) ‘absorbent’ sense of bibulous is now obsolete. Never mind: Zippy loves it.

Oh yes, also from NOAD (with Zippy, but not with Griffy’s further specialization in the strip, which is not in anybody’s dictionary):

adj. verklempt: North American informal [AZ: in Yinglish] overcome with emotion: I found myself getting a little verklempt just thinking about it | he was standing at the top of the steps looking verklempt.

You can certainly be verklempt over the meanings of words, but it doesn’t follow that verklemt, the Yiddish English adjective, means ‘overcome with emotion about the meanings of words’; verklemt, the Yiddish English adjective, is (off the shelf) neutral, unspecified, uncommitted as to the cause of this extreme emotion, which could be any of an endless number of things. Once off the shelf, you can do all sorts of things with it.

Sausages, no preservatives

May 29, 2023

An extremely busy photo that my Peruvian colleague Ernesto Cuba took on 5/24 inside the St. Lawrence Market in downtown Toronto. The shop in the photo is offering sausages, no preservatives — innocent enough, but EC immediately translated the sign into Spanish, got salchichas, no preservativos, and protested against the content of the slangy and figurative salchicha sin preservativo ‘penis without a condom’ (vs. the literal salchicha sin preservativo ‘sausage without a preservative’)

It was as if the sign had said, in English sausages, no prophylactics, which would instantly have allowed the English slang sausage ‘penis’ to surface. As it happens, the Spanish word for ‘preservative’ has been pressed into service as a rather technical-sounding euphemism referring to a life-preserving condom; that makes sense, but the parallel development just hasn’t happened in English, where the corresponding technical-sounding euphemism is prophylactic ‘preventive’, referring to a disease-preventing condom.


16 will get you 3

May 16, 2023

In my comics feed for today, May 16th, three excellent strips: a Zits on learning how to use a computer (and coping with explanations for how to use it from the deeply tech-embedded, like the 17-year-old Jeremy Duncan in this strip); a Rhymes With Orange with a truly bizarre way for spelling your name when ordering drinks at the neighborhood cafe; and a Bizarro with a high-groan pun.


Stick figure drawing

April 21, 2023

— Wayno’s title for today’s (uncaptioned) Wayno / Piraro Bizarro cartoon, in which Popsicle, Creamsicle, etc. artists gather to draw a model popsicle stick:

(#1) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 2 in this strip — see this Page)

The cartoon juxtaposes two worlds:

— the world of (what I’ll call) -sicles, quiescently frozen snacks on a stick: ice pops and ice-coated ice cream on a stick (which is conventionally known as a popsicle stick, from its use in making Popsicle® ice pops)

— and the world of life classes, in which artists draw a human figure, traditionally nude, from observing a live model


Apple mousse

April 5, 2023

From Kyle Wohlmut on Facebook today under the header “Rate this translation”:

(#1) They spell French pamplemousse ‘grapefruit’ wrong and then treat it as if it were parsed as pomme ‘apple’ + mousse (referring to one of several foamy substances; see especially senses 1 and 2 in English, below, which are directly borrowed from French)

Inventive, but absurd, and totally off the mark. Prime-grade etymythology.


Explorations in abessive clothing

February 21, 2023

(about bodies, mostly men’s, and the exposure of parts of those bodies, either by complete absence of an item of clothing, or by the absence of part of such an item; there will be plenty of male buttocks on view, and there will be discussion of men’s bodies, sometimes in street language — so not to everyone’s taste)

About items of clothing or parts of such items that are missing, lacking, absent.  (I’ll explain the adjective abessive in a moment; it does some of the work of the English derivational suffix –less or the preposition without, but is of wider applicability.) Two topics in this area are standing preoccupations of this blog: (re: absent items of clothing) male shirtlessness; and (re: absent parts of items of clothing) the assless / bottomless / backless nature of jockstraps.

The actual entry point to this posting came on Facebook on 5/9/19, when John Dorrance asked about the first use of assless chaps and Season Devereux  responded ,”Aren’t all chaps assless though?” To which I replied:

Yes indeed. The assless in assless chaps is an appositive, rather than restrictive, modifier — used to remind the hearer that chaps do in fact lack an ass, or to emphasize this fact in context — cf. appositive ‘chaps, which are assless’ vs. restrictive ‘chaps that are assless’, which is pleonastic.

It will take a little while to work up to chaps as abessive clothing: in this case, an item of clothing that lacks one of its parts (they’re assless) — in fact lacks two, since they’re also crotchless (chaps are essentially outerwear leggings of leather, held up by a belt).

Exploring abessive clothing quickly can take us far afield, and I’m not sure at this point how far I’m willing to go, so I’ll just dig in and see what happens. Come walk with me.