Archive for the ‘Formulaic language’ Category

Wading with Vladimir and Estragon

February 19, 2019

That, at least, is where it started, with this bit of playfulness on Facebook:

(#1)

One among a great many available versions of Wading for Godot (like this one, hardly any have an identifiable origin, but just get passed around on the web, along with jokes, funny pictures, and the like: the folk culture of the net). I’m particularly taken with #1, as a well-made image and as a close reworking of lines from Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot:

(more…)

Three exercises in cartoon understanding

February 18, 2019

Two from the 2/18&25/19 New Yorker — a Seth Fleishman (wordless) and a Lars Kenseth (a captioned meta-cartoon) — plus a vintage Gary Larson (considered both without caption and with).

(more…)

Revisiting 25: Alligator Goodbyes, now in song

February 14, 2019

Back on 6/4/11, in “Alligator Goodbyes”, a t-shirt with 14 instances

of a verse form that I’ll call the Alligator Goodbye, on the model of “see you later, alligator” (at the top of the shirt):

(#1)

Now, a much bigger assemblage of AGs — 27 of them — on the Language Nerds Facebook page, in b&w:

(more…)

Allusions to titles past

February 13, 2019

The Economist, wildly given to jokey headlines for its stories (and sometimes also their lead paragraphs or final paragraphs), performed a Proustian double play in its 2/2/19 issue: in two successive stories, headlines that are both plays on Proust’s title À la recherche du temps perdu, in two different English translations (both of them widely quoted in English).

on p. 21, about Facebook turning 15: “Remembrance of posts past” (Remembrance of Things Past)

on p. 22, about the consequences of the US government shutdown: “In search of lost time (and money)” (In Search of Lost Time)

(more…)

The thread drifted in my direction

February 5, 2019

Conversations typically drift in topic, as one thing suggests another. (Occasionally, the conversation is reset when one of the participants introduces a new topic or external events intrude with fresh things to talk about.) On-line threads similarly drift, sometimes in unexpected directions.

Case in point. I posted enthusiastically on this blog (with links elsewhere) about John McIntyre’s book The Old Editor Says: Maxims for Writing and Editing (2/2/19, “The crusty old editor speaks”), and John then noted my review on Facebook. I expected the Facebook discussion to continue with more observations about John’s little book, but since my name had entered the thread, several commentators shifted the topic to me. Whoa!

(more…)

The symbolisms of the pig

February 5, 2019

Today is the lunar New Year, celebrated as the beginning of the Year of the Pig in China, Vietnam, and a number of other places. From Wikipedia:

The Pig (豬) is the twelfth of the 12-year cycle of animals which appear in the Chinese zodiac related to the Chinese calendar. In the continuous sexagenary cycle of sixty years, every twelfth year corresponds to hai, 亥 [’12th earthly branch’ (in astrology)]

And in this PinMart enameled Chinese zodiac pin ( 1″w x 3/4″h):

Text: Pigs are hardworking, kind, and liberal. With their intense concentration and calm demeanor when facing trouble, Pigs will dedicate full energy into reaching their goals.

Not how most Western people would characterize pigs.

(more…)

The natural history of snowclones

February 1, 2019

The title of an abstract of mine for the 20th Stanford SemFest (Semantics Festival), to take place on March 15th and 16th (the Ides of March and National Panda Day, respectively). The SemFests feature reports (primarily 20-minute presentations, plus 10-minute question periods)

on recent work on any topic touching on meaning broadly construed, ranging from traditional topics in semantics and pragmatics to social meaning to natural language understanding and beyond

This posting is primarily about my snowclone paper, but there will also be some very personal reflections on the conference and its significance in my academic life.

(more…)

Ruthie x 3

December 29, 2018

In my comics feed for One Big Happy: The Huskies play Oregon (11/23), Money is the root of boll weevil (11/28), ABC order (11/30):

(more…)

Yet another Switzerland

December 28, 2018

In Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown S11 E4 “Armenia” (first aired 4/20/18), he travels from the capital, Yerevan, to Lake Sevan, which he characterizes as “the Switzerland of Armenia”. Ah, yet another (metaphorical) Switzerland, indeed yet another (snowclonic) Switzerland of X.

In general, wherever you have alpine terrain, especially with snow, forests, lakes, and quaint villages, you have another Switzerland.

(more…)

The family of Word Inclusion snowclones

December 27, 2018

Keep X In AXB, Put X (Back) In(to) AXB, Take X Out of AXB

(where X is a word included in a larger word AXB — included in pronunciation (exactly or approximately) or spelling or both)

I’ll start with one of the most complicated examples, the seasonally apropos slogan with KEEP:


(#1) An outdoor vinyl banner from ChurchSupplier.com

then go on to a seasonal example with TAKE, and end with the great mass of examples, with PUT.

(more…)