Archive for the ‘Formulaic language’ Category

Over the edge with formulaic language

June 22, 2019

It looks simple at the start, but then (as Mark Liberman explained earlier today on Language Log, in “[REDACTED]’s “cocked and loaded”: a tangled history”), it gets intriguingly convoluted.

It starts with Iran shooting down an American drone, upon which Helmet Grabpussy first ordered a military strike on Iran and then called it back. Grabpussy tweeted:

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And with “cocked & loaded”, we were off into the worlds of technical terminology, formulaic expressions, and speech errors — and then, thanks to Bill Maher, gay porn videos.

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Trix is for kids

June 17, 2019

Going the social media rounds, this joke, an ostentatiously playful allusion (OPA) to a bit of popular culture, presented as a texty — a cartoon that’s primarily a printed text, though texties often come with a visual backdrop, which sometimes contributes crucially to an understanding of the joke, as here:


(#1) A texty that lives in two worlds: American political culture of recent years (a reference conveyed visually, through the photo of Paul Ryan); and an ad campaign for an American breakfast cereal marketed to children (a reference conveyed verbally, by the ostentatious play on the ad slogan “Silly rabbit / Trix is for kids!”)

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Follow-up: things that make the world go ’round

June 12, 2019

My 6/6 posting “What makes the world go ’round?” looked at the catchphrase, or saying, Love makes the world go ’round, with
comments from the American Dialect Society’s lexicographers John Baker and Peter Reitan tracing the expression, with love as the subject, in several variant forms (including It’s love that makes the world go ’round and ‘Tis love that makes the world go ’round), back to an old song in English (early 19th century at least), and that from an older song in French. Now Peter Reitan has unearthed a late 18th-century playful variation on the formula, in which it’s drink, not love, that makes the world go ’round.

Meanwhile, in the modern world, playful variations have abounded, to the point where it’s reasonable to posit a snowclone X Makes the World, conveying ‘X is very important’.

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Lemon is the vanilla of Italian ices

June 9, 2019

The 6/7 Zippy takes us to the Jersey Shore for some water ice in a squeeze cup:


(#1) At the Strollo’s Lighthouse Italian Ice shop in Long Branch NJ: Zippy (alarmed at climate change) speaking on the left, Claude Funston (who denies climate change) on the right

On the setting. On Strollo’s. On lemon as the vanilla of Italian ices. On the relevant C(ount) noun ice, the nominal Italian ice, and the compounds water ice and squeeze cup. On Italian ice and the family of similar confections.

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What makes the world go round?

June 6, 2019

Today’s Zippy starts with Zippy and Griffy at Universal Studios Hollywood, reflecting on what is worthwhile in our lives:

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Griffy inventories some of his passions, in high culture and popular culture (including sports and food):

Beethoven, Alice Neel, Miles Davis, Tiger Woods, Ernie Bushmiller (the Nancy cartoonist), tuna melt

And Zippy, being a cartoon character,  follows with a catalogue of his own cartoon favorites:

Gerald McBoing Boing, Baby Huey, Yosemite Sam, Popeye the Sailor Man

Lots of stuff in these lists, but most of it is either in the cultural commons or treated in previous postings on this blog. The standout exception is the uncompromising portrait painter Alice Neel. She will lead us to a number of her subjects: the art critics Gregory Battcock and David Bourdon; the Greenwich Village eccentric Joe Gould; and the poet Frank O’Hara. It will end in naked men and some flagrant mansex, but I’ll warn you when this material looms.

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What a piece of work is Miss Lucille

May 22, 2019

The 4/25 One Big Happy features Miss Lucille:

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Ah, a piece of work.

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A standout in his shorts

April 27, 2019

(Mesh Man in his underwear, leading us in many directions, but with plenty of sexual content — not suitable for kids or the sexually modest.)

From the 12th: Mesh Man returns to the Daily Jocks underverse, flogging their fabulous Varsity Mesh Shorts, flaunting his famous receptive organ — he’s all man and a foot deep — kneeling with feeling in #1 and flashing a finger gun to his fans in #2:


(#1) Party shorts! (see the ad below) — I go down on one knee to go down on my guy

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Will the real Zippy please stand up?

April 20, 2019

Yesterday’s Zippy takes us to Littleton (NH, not the more famous CO — or, for that matter, IL, IA, KY, ME, MA, NC, or WV), where our Pinhead falls into an identity crisis:

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Everybody, including the counterman, is Zippy, or at least a Zippy. And the strip begins with a stretch that is both two panels, each with a Zippy in it, and one full-diner-view panel, with two Zippys in it. We’re in the nightmare world of clones — who am I?

Then there’s the observation in the last panel: No one brings small problems into a diner. Certainly, an interpretation of what happened in the strip before this, though as that it’s crucially ambiguous. But maybe also a moral that we should take away from those events, a piece of advice about what we should or should not do.

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Easter egg quotations

April 13, 2019

[The body of this posting vanished from WordPress on 4/23/19. Below is a summary of its content, without most of the original bells and whistles; when I finished the 4/13/19 posting, I deleted the files of background material for it, and I no longer have the heart to reconstruct it all. (By some software freak, the comments from the original posting were preserved.)

If you’re looking for my posting about Louis Flint Ceci and Magrittean disavowals, that’s “A Ceci disavowal” at:

https://arnoldzwicky.org/2019/04/24/a-ceci-disavowal/ ]

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Ed (the) Ped

April 4, 2019

In yesterday’s Zippy, the Walking Man — Zippy knows him as Ed Ped — returns to Zippytopia:

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First theme: Ed used to be otherwise, but now he’s naked, amanous, and apodous: Deal with it! Get over it! Get used to it! We are everywhere.

Second theme: Zippy moves the focus to France, causing Ed to morph into a stereotypical Frenchman (with beret and cigarette, probably Gauloises), who announces Je suis partout ‘I am all over, I am everywhere’.

Side effect:  French Ed evokes, in Zippy’s mind, Jerry Lewis in The Nutty Professor. (Zippy is a wildly associative thinker.)

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