Archive for the ‘Formulaic language’ Category

Noodling with formulaic language

October 6, 2017

Today is National Noodle Day. Yes, an event fabricated by people in the food indusry to showcase their products and sell them, on a date no doubt chosen only because it hadn’t already been claimed by any other food. But noodles are delicious, they’re multicultural, and they’re fun.

I celebrated the occasion at lunch with some porcini mushroom and truffle triangoli (stuffed ravioli, but triangular rather than square) from Trader Joe’s, with arrabiatta sauce (a spicy tomato sauce). Pasta in English food talk for Italian food, but  noodles in English food talk for Chinese (and other East Asian and Southeast Asian) food — so today they’re noodles to me. (I recommend a broadminded view on what counts as noodles.)

I also recommend that we adopt a symbolic figure for the occasion, something like the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, Halloween pumpkins and witches, Pilgrims for Thanksgiving, the New Year baby, and so on. I suggest the Flying Spaghetti Monster, with his noodly appendages.

But first let’s get down to some recent noodling with formulaic expressions in the comics: One Big Happy (an idiom), Rhymes With Orange (a frequent collocation or an idiom, depending on who you read), and Mother Goose and Grimm (a proverb):

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He opened his mouth

October 5, 2017

… and a/his purse dropped / fell out.

Meaning: and he revealed himself to be a flaming faggot. Said by someone (usually a gay man) who is distancing himself from flaming faggots and (usually) expressing disdain for them. A variant of the formula in an ecard:

    (#1)

(Eventually there will be a bit of sex talk, from Dan Savage, but otherwise this material shouldn’t be problematic.)

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One-hit grinders

October 2, 2017

The Zippy from September 30th, featuring Mary’s Coffee Shop, which also offers grinders:

(#1)

Plays on several senses of grind, plus the idiom one-hit wonder (with its phonological play on /wʌn/).

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Bear chairs

September 23, 2017

Today’s Zippy lumbers through some plays on bear, in a bear chair:

(#1) The bear figure as both comforting and threatening

Bear chairs, gay bears, flags, and more.

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Husbands and wives

September 22, 2017

Three veins of spousal humor, starting in the early 19th century and ending in an edgily close-to-life comic stereotype realized in cartoons, tv shows, and movies.

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I like pig butts and I cannot lie

September 19, 2017

Noted on a sign in Dan Gordon’s in Palo Alto yesterday — a place that specializes in barbequed meat, especially brisket and pulled pork. Meanwhile, I like pig butts and I cannot lie, with its double entendre play on butt, has apparently achieved meme status; it’s now available in many forms, including t-shirts from several suppliers:

(#1)

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Revisiting 7: NL:W

September 17, 2017

Yesterday, a posting on the story of a joke (Not Lady: Wife, NL:W for short) whose canonical form is

A: Who was that lady I saw you with last night?
B: That was no lady; that was my wife.

The vector for the spread of the joke seems to have been the vaudeville team Weber & Fields, who allegedly used it in their stage routines over a century ago. But I found no first-hand reports, so I appealed to the hounds of ADS-L for attestations. This netted a clear occurrence from 1859, but embedded in a long and complex back story (though again with the stage German accent of W&F). And an earlier British antecedent.

Then Larry Horn chimed in with some astute observations on the semantics and pragmatics of NL:W.

All will be reproduced here.

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The NL:W punchline

September 16, 2017

The lead-in tag to my recent posting on marmots:

That’s no beaver, that’s my marmot!

A take-off on a punchline to a vaudeville joke from long ago, a line that’s been played with many thousands of times in the last century. The No Lady: Wife (NL:W) formula, in two common instantiations in a two-man exchange:

1 A: Who was that lady I saw you with last night?
B: She was no lady. She was my wife.

2 A: Who was that lady I saw you with last night?
B: That was no lady; that was my wife.

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Where is Gilroy?

September 5, 2017

Restrain the impulse to reply “Gilroy was here” (I’ll get to that below); the title is an echo of my 7/7/15 posting “Where is Ojai?”, which was about whether the city of Ojai, in Ventura County CA, is in California’s Central Coast region or in in the South Coast region (along with Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego counties).

Just so for Gilroy, a city in (far southern) Santa Clara county: is it in the Central Coast region, or in the Bay Area region on the northern California coast?

Ojai and the rest of Ventura County are in a cultural liminal zone, between central and south; and Gilroy and neighboring Santa Cruz county are in a cultural liminal zone, between central (with small cities, picturesque open spaces, and extensive rural or semi-rural areas) and Bay Area (mostly dense urban and surburban settlement).

I stumbled onto the Gilroy question through food, specifically through Original California Style Hot Pepper Sauce, made in Gilroy (but encountered on a table at the Peninsula Fountain Grill, here in Palo Alto), whose makers advertise:

Pepper Plant Pepper Sauce was developed by a lover of spicy peppers who wanted to enjoy their unique taste year round. Pepper Plant quickly became a favorite of the California Central Coast.

The Pepper Plant folks seem pretty clear that they’re on the Central Coast (along with Watsonville, Salinas, Monterey, and Carmel) — at the northern tip of the region, granted, but in it.

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Bosco 3

September 2, 2017

In the August 28th New Yorker‘s “Goings On About Town” section, announcing the end of this year’s HVSF season:

Beautiful natural vistas, drama, and history come together at Boscobel House and Gardens, home of the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, about ninety minutes north of the city. Exciting unplanned confluences, such as a convoy of helicopters flying over “Macbeth,” occur regularly [thus making a virtue out of inconvenience]. “A Week of Revolution” (Aug. 27-Sept. 4) will include reënactments, picnics, hikes, and a staging of Richard Nelson’s play “The General from America,” about Benedict Arnold, who tried to hand his command of West Point — visible across the river — over to the British.

An intriguing program, but what caught my eye was the name Boscobel for the house and estate. Long familiar to me, but seen in a new light after two Bosco postings on this blog: from the 20th, on Bosco chocolate syrup and the 25th, on Don Bosco (St. Giovanni / John Bosco).

Eventually this will lead us to Miltonian bosky dells and dogs named Bosco (one of whom got elected mayor of Sunol CA some years ago).

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