Archive for the ‘Catchphrases’ Category

Zippyphrases 2

March 11, 2022

Some riffing on yesterday’s posting “Catchphrases for sale”, about this Zippy strip:

(#1) Offering fresh phrases — not already in circulation as catchphrases, sayings, proverbs, slogans, famous quotations, well-known names and titles, and the like — chosen at random

Zippy’s fresh phrases sound like catchphrases — roughly, free-standing expressions that you recognize as coming from a stock of quotations widely known in your culture, which then (if you wish) can be conventionally used to make some point — but are in fact novel. The things called catchphrases are then exquisitely embedded in particular cultures (note: “widely known in your culture” and also “can be conventionally used”).


Catchphrases for sale

March 10, 2022

(I’m struggling with medical issues and sleeping away much of the day, so this posting will serve as a kind of intro to a host of related topics having to do with formulaic expressions. Bear with me.)

Yesterday’s Zippy strip has our Pinhead (accompanied by Claude) selling fresh catchphrases from a van:

(#1) Zippy’s Guaranteed Random Phrases — meaning, in this case, fresh phrases (not already in circulation as catchphrases, sayings, proverbs, slogans, famous quotations, well-known names and titles, and the like) chosen at random; and not, say, strings of (in some sense) randomly chosen words, like can building of lease my out if I zombies get legally my bought (the 13 words of Zippy’s fresh catchphrase in random order) or level righteous quicksand join sedate nine songs murky promise arrange blind man voice (13 content words selected at random from the English vocabulary)

But in the air we can sniff the sense ‘(informalodd, unusual, or unexpected’ (NOADof the adjective random. So we can wonder about expressions like see how they snide and semolina pilchard (from the Beatles’ “I Am the Walrus”; or Burnt Weeny Sandwich and Weasels Ripped My Flesh (Frank Zappa album titles from 1970); or runcible spoon (Edward Lear nonsense verse) and slithy toves (Lewis Carroll nonsense verse); or portmanteau jam and Jelly Roll Morton’s saltwater Taffy was a Welshman (a POP chain / portmanteau jam from my 1/31/22 posting “The portmanteau truck”).

Meanwhile, Claude asks, “How do you make money out of stringin’ a few unrelated words together?”


Zippy exits, pursued by a board

August 16, 2021

(Warning: high fecality content, which some may find unpleasant.)

Todays Zippy strip, in which Zippy is subjected to stoner / surfer verbal abuse:

(#1) Zippy and his surf iron

As usual, there’s a lot here — I admire Beavis’s one wave shy of a wipeout (see Mark Liberman’s 7/14/05 LLog posting “A few players short of a side” on the Snowclone of Foolishness {small quantity of essential items} short / shy of a {desirable collection}) and the laundry-musician pun in the title “Bleach Boy” — but I’ve picked out the mildly abusive expression iron my shorts for full-bore scrutiny.


An allusion and a pun

July 1, 2021

🐇🐇🐇 The Mother Goose and Grimm strip from 6/30, with an allusion to an item of culture (the catchphrase “Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition”, quoting from sketches from the Monty Python tv shows and recordings) and perpetrating a (fairly absurd) pun on the phrase:

(#1) The bull terrier Grimm and the cat Attila confront punishment for their household misdeed

So the ostentatiously playful allusion to the Spanish Inquisition is motivated by the situation in the strip.


Hello, sailor

February 16, 2021

(This posting is about (real or fictive) sexual encounters between men, sometimes discussed in street language, so it’s not for kids or the sexually modest.)

The Daily Jocks ad from 2/15, under the header:

(#1) With the motor boat emoji (there’s a ferry emoji that might have done the job here, with a bad pun as a bonus)


It’s a metaphor, son!

January 21, 2020

On Facebook recently, this supermarket snap, presumably from a store in Quebec, with a notable offering highlighted:

(#1) Five parts to the labeling: the name of the product in French (ailes de lapin); the name of the company (Canabec, a Quebec distributor of game — gibiers — and exotic meats; cf. elsewhere Plaisirs Gastronomiques, a Quebec company offering gourmet food, and Gaspésien, another Quebec fine food company); the name of the product in English (rabbit wings); the weight (in grams); and the price (in C$ / CA$ / CAD)

Much FB merriment over ailes de lapin ‘rabbit wings’, to which I responded:

Um, these are rabbit legs, right? Metaphorical? They resemble chicken wings and can be cooked in all the same ways. (Chinese rabbit wings are yummy.) M. Lapin: “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! for then I would fly away, and be at rest.” (Psalm 55) — later adding: “Oh, that I had wings like a rabbit! for then I would bound away, and be at rest.”

It’s a metaphor, son! A metaphor! Apparently one that is dead in Quebec, and so unremarkable in Quebecois — cf. Fr chauve-souris ‘bat’ (lit. ‘bald mouse’), Engl head of lettuce (where are its eyes and mouth?), and other dead metaphors that become entertaining when you attempt to breathe life back into them.


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):


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.


Gloating over them apples

August 6, 2019

In an advertising poster, for actual apples:


and on a tongue-in-cheek sticker, reproducing a gloat:



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’.


A building guide for the perplexed

July 5, 2019

A Dale Coverly Speed Bump cartoon (from 10/17/17) that appeared in a Facebook posting in this form:

(#1) The philosopher’s eternal question, en français

I wasn’t aware that the strip came in a French version, but evidently it does; I still don’t know where and how it’s distributed (and I now wonder if there’s a Spanish version too, though I haven’t found one).