Archive for the ‘Formulaic language’ Category

Contamination by association

August 13, 2019

(Regularly skirting or confronting sexual matters, so perhaps not to everyone’s taste.)

Yesterday’s Wayno/Piraro Bizarro takes us back to the Garden of Eden:


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

The bit of formulaic language for this situation is a catchphrase, a slogan with near-proverbial status (YDK, for short):

YOU DON’T KNOW WHERE IT’S BEEN

The leaves are conventionally associated with modesty, through their having been used to cover the nakedness of Adam and Eve in the Garden — a use that then associates the leaves with the genitals, from which the psychological contamination spreads to the entire plant, including the fruits. You don’t know where that fig has been.

(more…)

Gloating over them apples

August 6, 2019

In an advertising poster, for actual apples:

(#1)

and on a tongue-in-cheek sticker, reproducing a gloat:

(#2)

(more…)

“as cleverer than people as people are than plants”

August 4, 2019

From The Economist of July 27th. Yes, it’s grammatical, but it’s fiercely hard to parse — you might feel the need to get out pencil and paper to graph the thing — and it’s also a big show-stopper flourish: stop reading the news to admire how clever we are!

In this case, the magazine has committed a nested clausal comparative (NCC), somewhat reminiscent of nested relative clauses (also known in the syntactic literature as self-embedded relative clauses) like those in the NP with head the rat modified by the relative clause that the cat that the dog worried ate:

[ the rat ]-i

… [ that [ the cat ]-j [ that [ the dog ] worried ___-j ] ate ___-i ]

(where an underline indicates a missing (“extracted”) constituent, and the indices mark coreferential constituents). Both nested relatives and NCCs require the hearer to interrupt the processing of one clause to process another clause of similar form.

(more…)

Briefly noted: the disavowal drill

August 4, 2019

In today’s NYT Magazine (in print), a Jason Parham comment “This is not a drill”, on a 7/21 (in print) piece by Claudia Rankine, the comment turned into a thumbnail illustration by Giacomo Gambineri:

The Magrittean disavowal Ceci n’est pas une perceuse ‘This is not a drill’ (referring to une perceuse, a device for making — piercing — holes in things), but playing on the English catchphrase This is not a drill, conveying  ‘This is the real thing, this is serious’.

(more…)

The opossum joke

July 30, 2019

(I posted a version of this under the heading “The opossum” on July 30th, but by a WordPress glitch the link to that posting was later re-directed to the next posting in line, “Ralph at the Port Authority” (here), so that my earlier posting disappeared completely. I lamented this loss on Facebook, and eventually archivist and quote investigator Garson O’Toole magicked up a Google Cache version of the text for me. Thanks to Garson, here’s a reconstituted version.)

(Totally baffled addendum. WordPress has published this revised posting with the date 7/30, though it was actually posted on 8/1.)

A very sweet One Big Happy from 6/30: Ruthie and her grandfather:

(#1)

A granddad joke — well, actually, two of them in sequence, the first sledgehammer simple (a classic dad joke), the second delightfully subtle (a meta-joke in which the audience response becomes a crucial part of the joke).

(more…)

Oh that’s good

July 22, 2019

Following on my 7/7 posting “GN/BN”, about the Good News Bad News joke routine, which the hounds of ADS-L traced back to the early 19th century (at least). Other commenters offered formuations of the idea that there’s a good side and a bad side to everything, the bad comes withthe good, and lots of other things that, however interesting, are not instances of the joke formula (in any of its variants). But then on 7/16, Bill Mullins posted about an entirely different joke formula hinging on the opposition of good and bad.

Bill wrote:

Are you familiar with Archie Campbell’s “That’s Good/That’s Bad” routines? He used to do them on Hee Haw.

And we’re off!

(more…)

Penguins at the sushi bar

July 21, 2019

From Michael Thomas on Facebook yesterday, a link to a CNN travel story, “Pair of penguins waddles into New Zealand sushi spot” by Isabela Espadas Barros Leal on 7/19/19. Mike, knowing of my (separate) interests in sushi and in penguins, asked, “Does your local sushi joint have any of these?”

To which I replied, “Sadly, no. But pair of penguins waddles into New Zealand sushi spot sounds like the beginning of an exotic Walk Into Bar joke.”

Let’s take this one bit at a time, starting with the news story.

(more…)

Nudie tales

July 8, 2019

The One Big Happy from 6/11 (in my comics feed today), in which Ruthie mishears a stock expression from tv news reporting:


Said: new details. Heard: nudie tales.

The stock expression is new details (sometimes more details, occasionally just details), frequently at 11 (because 11 p.m. is the conventional time for the late evening news in the US), but other times are of course possible (e.g. at 6), as are continuations like soon, later, and coming.

(more…)

GN/BN

July 7, 2019

A reference to the Good News Bad News joke routine that was illustrated in my 6/27/19 posting “The Desert Island Reaper” — seen below in its BN/GN variant, which is often dark or nasty:


From Cyanide and Happiness, a strip that specializes in dark BN/GN jokes

Now: a survey of the BN/GN discussion on this blog, leading to a guest posting by Larry Horn on the topic (which I have edited and amended.

(more…)

A building guide for the perplexed

July 5, 2019

A Dale Coverly Speed Bump cartoon (from 10/17/17) that appeared in a Facebook posting in this form:


(#1) The philosopher’s eternal question, en français

I wasn’t aware that the strip came in a French version, but evidently it does; I still don’t know where and how it’s distributed (and I now wonder if there’s a Spanish version too, though I haven’t found one).

(more…)