Archive for the ‘Formulaic language’ Category

A label of love

January 21, 2017

The One Big Happy in Thursday’s comics feed:

From OED3 (Nov. 2010), under labour ‘task’:

labour of love  a task undertaken either for love of the work itself or out of love for a person, cause, etc.; work of this nature.

The fixed expression — which Ruthie has presumably not heard before and so has eggcornishly reshaped — is Biblical in origin and has been used allusively in names of books, songs, films, and the like.

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Meaty matters

January 19, 2017

(Mostly about language, but male bodies and bodyparts play significant roles.)

Yesterday, a posting about a fantasy agency supplying male hustlers, featuring two meat + N compounds: meat market ‘sexual marketplace’ and meatmen ‘men considered as sexual objects’ (as bodies as wholes, but especially as assemblages of sexual parts — cock, balls, and ass).  The interplay of two senses of meat here (the body, especially the male body, as a whole vs. the central masculine bodypart, the penis) led me to two joking uses of meat, in a Pat Byrnes New Yorker cartoon from 2001 (in which the ‘animal flesh as food’ sense of meat is central) and a piece of advice on the Usenet newsgroup soc.motss from Joseph Francis some years ago (in which the ‘body as sexual object’ sense is central).

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You can’t judge a story by its title

November 21, 2016

The One Big Happy in today’s comics feed:

The assigned story was “The Princess and the Pea”, but Joe had heard only the title (and a bit of the plot), so /pi/ could have been the letter P, or (bizarrely) the vegetable pea, or (given the mention of mattresses) urine, pee. Joe goes with what he knows, and, having not actually read the story, confabulates a tale of enuresis.

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New snowclone days

April 21, 2016

Things have been quiet on the snowclone front on the net for a while. The Snowclones Database has been in abeyance (since 1/28/13), and little has been posted on Language Log or here. But then came my recent posting on the snowclone Think Of The Xs, and a bit before that, the introduction of a snowclone discussion on ADS-L. Dan Goncharoff on 4/12/16:

Discussion of Clinton e-mails led Obama to say, “there’s classified, and then there’s classified. Has anyone ever traced this formation back into history?

Tracing snowclones back in history turns out to involve all the complexities of tracing the history of some word or fixed expression, plus a lot more. More on this later.

But back to There’s X And Then There’s X. The major item here is a posting to ADS-L by Larry Horn on 10/8/12:

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think of the Xs

April 19, 2016

Start with my 3/31 posting “A kitten-killing God?”, where I looked at a slogan (and caption for an image), with the crucial part bold-faced:

Every time you masturbate, God kills a kitten. Please think of the kittens.

A formulaic pattern Please think of the Xs (with minor variants: Think of the Xs!, Won’t someone (please) think of the Xs?, Won’t anyone think of the Xs? What about the Xs?) — some sort of snowclone, call it Think Of The Xs, exhorting the addressee to stop some activity, on the grounds that it does some damage to the Xs or sets a bad example for the Xs. Nancy’s comment on this posting of mine:

Not wank-related, but “Catmageddon,” the new anti-smoking ad campaign from Truth, makes the following equation: “SMOKING = NO CATS = NO CAT VIDEOS.” Think of the cats!

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Reciting formulas

April 13, 2016

The 3/13 One Big Happy, recently in my cartoon feed:

Ruthie and Joe are both mishearing parts of the Lord’s Prayer (in one of its many variants). Ruthie, line 1: “Our Father, who art in heaven”. Joe, line 2: “Hallowed be His name”.  This is a highly formulaic text, in a strange variety of English, most often heard recited by groups of people mumbling out of synch with one other. The text is odd, and hard to make out: a perfect breeding place for mishearings.

About as good as texts sung to music. Songs often have remarkable words — poetic, allusive, dialectal, archaic, idiosyncratic, whatever — and singing itself and musical accompaniment deform and conceal wording. Hence classic mondegreens. Rote recitation of texts nurtures something very similar to mondegreens (often classed with them).

Tastee days

April 7, 2016

Today’s Zippy:

(#1)

From the annals of snowclones, commercial icons in contestation, commercial names, and advertising run amok.

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At the noodle bar

February 7, 2016

The Saturday (February 6th) Rhymes With Orange:

(#1)

Ah, a noodle bar — one in which the customer picks a type of pasta and a type of sauce. There are in fact such places, though they seem not to be called noodle bars.

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Five from Barsotti

January 20, 2016

It started with a cartoon by New Yorker cartoonist Charles Barsotti (from 1/18/10) in my doctor’s examining room yesterday:

(#1)

Angry doctor upbraids a smugly smiling patient (hugely obese, cocktail in hand, cigar in mouth).

Barsotti is a great favorite of mine, and he has his own Page on this blog.

So: four more Barsottis that tickle me and haven’t been blogged on here before.

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Viking Kids

January 18, 2016

Posted on Facebook yesterday, this entertaining composition:

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The caption combines two kinds of word play on the original It takes a village to raise a child: a word exchange, of village and child; and a pun on raise / raze. And it alludes to the reputation of the Vikings as ravaging and pillaging as they move across the countryside.

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