Archive for the ‘Metonymy’ Category

Swiss cheese isn’t Swiss

July 10, 2018

(And Swiss steak isn’t either, but that’s a topic for another posting.)


(#1) A wedge of American Swiss

But then the expression Swiss cheese is ambiguous. NOAD recognizes this, but not in the way you were probably expecting:

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Deshagged and pedicured

May 17, 2018

(This starts innocently enough, but quickly descends into male body parts and mansex, in very plain language. All this in text, no X-images, but, still, not for kids or the sexually modest.)

Last week, as usual around the beginning of each month, I had my moments of body care: a haircut, to get deshagged (as I think of it); and the services of a neighborhood nail salon, to get pedicured.

Then I thought: I get deshagged regularly, but I don’t get shagged, haven’t been since sometime in the last century, don’t even remember when. Also, I get pedicured, but I don’t get pedicated. I like the sweetly raunchy verb shag and the owlishly learnèd verb pedicate. So different in tone, but they both roll off the tongue. Two ways of dancing.

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There oughta be a word

May 16, 2018

Darya Kavitskaya on Facebook yesteday:

This is sour cherry clafoutis. No more food for today.

I commented:

I think French needs a verb clafouter ‘to cook a clafoutis; to devour a clafoutis’.

Come to think of it, I could use an English verb clafoute /kla’fut/ with these senses:

I think I’ll clafoute for tonight’s dessert. Maybe plum.

Terry piggishly clafouted. Seven at a sitting!

To come: a reminder about what clafoutis is; about the forms of the invented French verb clafouter; on “having no word for” some concept; about needing — or at least wanting — a word for it; about the ambiguity of these invented verbs (both ‘to cook’ and ‘to eat’); about the source of such ambiguities in marker-poor combinations of elements (lacking explicit indicators of the semantic relationship between the elements — there’s nothing in French clafouter or English clafoute to indicate the semantic role of the referent of their subjects, as creator or consumer); and about the motivation for marker-poor combinations, in a drive for brevity (vs. clarity). French and English could be clearer, less ambiguous — I’ll illustrate with still more invented French verbs — but only at the cost of greater length and effort.

All this from (delicious) French sour cherry flan.

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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.

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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).

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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

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cut the bill in half

August 20, 2017

Yesterday’s Mother Goose and Grimm:

An ambiguity in the verb cut, combined with two metonymically related uses of the noun bill.

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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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Sparky, Jasper, and Bunky

April 3, 2017

Three morning names a few days ago: used as nicknames, address terms, common nouns. Each with its own story.

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News for penises: a friend request

March 11, 2017

(Well, yes, men’s bodies, sex talk, and man-man sex. Not for kids or the sexually modest.)

A friend request on Facebook, from someone using the name Nick Petersucker (some time ago, FB obviously ceased to care a great deal about its policy of insisting that posters use their real names; now, all sorts of remarkable names come past me on FB). His profile picture, a selfie of someone, first posted in 2012:

(#1)

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