Archive for the ‘Metonymy’ Category

The Adventure of the Morning Napoleons

July 6, 2016

Today’s morning name (welling up during my sleep from who knows where) was mille-feuille, the pastry.

(#1)

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The masturbation sleeve

April 30, 2016

(The subject line should warn readers about the content to follow. There will be linguistics, and also music, but there’s no denying the sexual content, which might make some readers uncomfortable.)

Yesterday, in talking about a comic in the first issue of the publication Meatmen, I noted that in this strip,

blow jobs (by mouth or Accu-Jac) and hand jobs abound

referring to an electrically-operated male masturbation device, via a trade name variously spelled (here, I used the spelling most familiar to me, but it seems that the trade name is, or at least was, Accujac). Much to talk about here — male masturbation devices, spellings, the name Accujac, the expression jack off, the noun orifice, and more. But, in recognition of recent events, I’ll start with Prince.

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nookie

April 13, 2016

(On sexual vocabulary and its uses, but not in street language.)

Back a few days, in my sexy-playful posting “Magnitude boys” (underwear with captions), the Rocky character calls out (to two other men), “Move over boys, Daddy needs nookie!” What he wants is sexual intercourse, but he’s saying this playfully. He could have used much earthier and more direct phrasing (and he could also have been more specific about what role he wanted to take in intercourse), but he chose instead to use the lighthearted, even sweet, word nookie (variant spellings nooky, nookey, nookee).

Three things about the word: its range of meanings (narrowly focused on sexual matters); its etymology (disputed and unclear, but culturally fascinating); and its penumbra of associations, which makes it sound “cute”, so much so that it can be used (albeit still with sexual overtones) in the name of an Australian brand of clothing for hip young women, Nookie Nation (with its cheeky mascot, the Nookie Girl).

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Substance massification on the golf course

September 15, 2015

In another watching of the GEICO “Kraken” commercial (posting here), I caught a nice everyday example of the sort of conventionalized metonymy that I called in a 2008 LLog posting substance massification, a particular type of conversion of a C (count) noun to a M (mass) use.

In their in-play commentary on a golf game in progress, one reporter says to another, about a golfer attempting to cope with a sea-monster:

(X) Looks like he’s going to go with the 9 iron. That may not be enough club.

(Golf) club is C, but here is used with M syntax, according to this generalization (from the LLog posting):

C>M: substance massification. A C noun denoting an individual has a M use to denote a generic substance or totality, usually in construction with a quantity determiner (“That’s a lot of horse”, “That’s more elephant than we can handle”). [So: horse / elephant (roughly) ‘amount of horse / elephant material or substance’ (considered as a whole)]

Or in the case of (X), enough club, with club (roughly) ‘amount of club substance or material’.

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Go for the nuts!

September 8, 2015

From Ned Deily on Facebook, a photo of the Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game for small children, which invited jokey comments playing on nuts ‘testicles’. And from there to other expressions for the testicles: play ball!

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The hunted 95 per cent?

June 4, 2015

Let’s start with:

(1) Hunted for its horns, 95 percent of the population disappeared

This looks like a classic “dangling modifier”. We have a SPAR hunted for its horns (a Subjectless Predicative Adjunct Requiring a referent for the missing subject), but the adjunct doesn’t obey the Subject Rule (doesn’t pick up its referent from the subject of the main clause: (1) doesn’t in fact tell us that 95 percent of the population was hunted for its horns). (On the concepts and terminology, see the material in the Page on “Dangler postings”, especially the “as a SPAR” posting.)

But even without context, (1) is easily understood: 95 percent of the population is a metonymic stand-in for a population of X, and it’s X that was hunted for its horns. But that takes some interpretive work. However, when more discourse context is provided, this work is no longer needed, and I’d expect that readers wouldn’t even notice that (1) is technically a dangling modifier.

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Name that dress code

October 11, 2014

Today’s Dilbert has Catbert giving advice on naming the company’s new dress code:

  (#1)

(in fact, a dorky name for it). Now on dork and dorky.

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Non-hair quiffs

June 7, 2013

Commenter John yesterday on my “whoopee cushion” posting:

So the point of intersection of “making whoopie” and “razzberry” is quiff?

Well, it turns out that in addition to quiff referring to a hair style (first discussed in this blog here), it has plenty of other senses. What I said in that first quiff posting was:

(Quiff is a word that sounds like it ought to be at least naughty, if not actually coarse slang — “his quiff in her quim”, something like that — and indeed a huge variety of slang senses have been reported. Apparently, it’s just one of those dirty-sounding words that can get pressed into service for any old off-color meaning. Including as an onomatopoetic verb meaning ‘fart’.)

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Idiomaticity

May 18, 2013

Today’s Pearls Before Swine:

The idiom golden throat ‘a widely admired singing or speaking voice’ is both metonymic (throat for ‘voice’) and metaphorical (golden ‘like gold in value’), but it’s complex enough that someone could not see that. Rat, of course, just turns things to his own ends.

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john

February 20, 2013

Over on ADS-L, Fred Shapiro (the Yale quotations man) forwarded a query:

I have been asked about why the word john is used to denote a prostitute’s client.  It seems obvious to me that the name John, because of its commonness, became a generic term for men, perhaps with the implication that prostitute’s clients don’t give their real names.

This is undoubtedly as complete an answer as you could hope for, but many people find it unsatisfying; they’re hoping for a *story*, a story with a particular prostitute’s client named John as its central figure. People are narratophiles; they love stories.

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