Archive for the ‘Catchphrases’ Category

On the quote watch

April 14, 2017

An exchange on Facebook a few days ago, provoked by a 4/9/17 piece linking to 4/15/11 story “World’s languages traced back to single African mother tongue: scientists” on PRI (Public Radio International). Various annoyed responses, including, from Ben Zimmer:

No idea why this PRI piece has been making the rounds lately, but it’s about the old 2011 Science paper

My response:

On Facebook, everything old is new again.

— intending to use the boldfaced catchphrase (or cliché) to convey something like ‘fashions and trends are repeated or revived’. Then I wondered about the history of the expression, and found nothing useful in dictionaries of quotations, idioms, and clichés, at least for this wording used in this way. What I found were links to biblical quotations with different wording conveying rather different content; and then, from the 1970s on, a ton of examples of what was clearly recognized as a catchphrase / cliché, used much as I used it above.

As I note here every so often, I am not a lexicographer or a quotes investigator, and I don’t have the resources to pursue the history of expressions in their sociocultural context (though I do hang out with people who do these things, splendidly). So here I’m just setting the problem.

(more…)

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).

(more…)

The New Year’s resolution

January 6, 2016

Two days ago I posted a Mother Goose and Grimm strip on New Year’s resolution (#1 there, with the character Ralph confusing resolution and revolution). Now comes a Eugene Chan cartoon with a musical pun on resolution:

(#1)

It resolves to a G minor triad.

(more…)