Archive for the ‘Formulaic language’ Category

Unaccompanied

October 13, 2019

This touching Sara Lautman pun cartoon from the 10/14 New Yorker:


(#1) “You know, sooner or later we’re going to have to let her go out unaccompanied.”

It all depends on what you mean by unaccompanied.

(more…)

The hurtful dog

September 18, 2019

Back on the 13th, David Horne passed on this cartoon on Facebook:


(#1) Explosm-style dog hurts man with words

This is in fact a Cyanide and Happiness meme, a 4-panel cartoon template with all the artwork taken, as is, from a particular Cyanide (Explosm.net) cartoon, and all the words too — except for the dog’s dagger to the heart in the 3rd panel. Meme sites supply the template; all you have to do is fill in your own nasty words in the 3rd panel; you get to judge what would truly wound your intended audience.

In this case, David’s FB readers included a large number of people who had failed to finish their PhD dissertations, or completed the work over long painful self-doubting years, or finished but without any enthusiasm for the dissertation they somehow squeaked though with, or gave up before embarking on the task at all (believing that they could only be defeated) — or who were close to people who went through such experiences. Waves of pain washed over quite a few of David’s FB friends, me included.

On the other hand, others found the cartoon wickedly funny, which was David’s first response, and I appreciate that reaction too.

To come: more on the Explosm Hurtful Dog meme, and on uncompleted PhD dissertations, and on another Explosm cartoon involving that same dog, whose bark turns out to be much, much worse than its bite, even though its bite is exquisitely painful.

(more…)

Segregation in the soapy comics

September 15, 2019

Today’s Zippy takes us into the world of soap-opera comics, specifically those by Nick Dallis (with various collaborators):


(#1) Realistic cartoon characters from three Dallis strips: Rex Morgan, M.D.; Judge Parker; and Apartment 3-G (among other well-known soap opera strips: Mary Worth, Brenda Starr)

The characters in realistic cartoons are stylized sketches from life, while those in cartoony worlds are grossly exaggerated, some not even humanoid in form. Zippy himself is human (a Pinhead rather than a Roundhead) but cartoony — though as other Zippy strips have demonstrated, he can be made even more so (cartooniness is a recurrent theme in Bill Griffith’s world).

Then there’s the segregation theme, with realistic cartoon characters mostly taking the position that realistics and cartoonies shouldn’t mix in any way: stick / keep to your own kind! (Note the meta move of having cartoon characters espouse beliefs and attitudes about cartoon characters.) With the predictable tragedy of prejudice against mixed couples, joined by bonds of affection, sexual relationship, or matrimony.

(more…)

Revisiting 33: the ambiguity of the truffle

September 5, 2019

Just popped up on Facebook, this old (1/30/07) Bizarro cartoon:

(#1)

See my 8/22/19 posting “Sexy Dark Swiss”, with its section on truffles, fungal and chocolate.

(more…)

with all the fixin’s

August 28, 2019

The One Big Happy from 7/28, all about fixin’s (also known as fixings):

(#1)

The cartoon turns on a culinary distinction between main, or principal — essential — ingredients and accompanying, or accessory – in principle, optional — ones, the fixin’s. Without the leafy greens it’s not a green salad (though it could be a chopped salad), but if it’s got the leafy greens and no fixin’s (with nothing else except dressing), it’s a green salad.

From AHD5:

noun fixings: Informal Accessories, trimmings: a holiday dinner with all the fixings.

The example here has the full conventional collocation, or stock expression, with all the fixings, usually pronounced as informal (esp. Southern) fixin’s (spelled with or without an apostrophe). Simplifying considerably: nominals in –ing (as in beatings and singings) do have variants in /n/ rather than /ŋ/, but these pronunciations are mostly characterstic of South Midlands and Southern speech, especially in informal speech.

(more…)

Revisiting 31: That’s Good / That’s Bad

August 26, 2019

My 7/22 posting “Oh that’s good” looked at Archie Campbell’s That’s Good / That’s Bad joke routine from the tv show Hee Haw. Now Tim Evanson points out a somewhat later appearance of the routine, in an episode of The Simpsons.

(#1) From “Treehouse of Horror III”, The Simpsons S4 E5 (first aired 10/29/92)

(more…)

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…)