Archive for the ‘Grammatical categories’ Category

Give Head for Christmas!

December 13, 2018

(Significant sexual content, not for children or the sexually modest.)

Making the rounds on Facebook, this photo from a store sportswear department, with a sign that appears to be exhorting Christmas shoppers to give head ‘perform oral sex’:

(#1)

Not that some prime seasonal head wouldn’t be a fine holiday gift — but the exhortation is, alas, only to give products of the Head company, which sells (among other things) sportswear.

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A vernacular construction?

December 10, 2018

Ben Yagoda on the Chronicle of Higher Education‘s Lingua Franca blog on 12/5/18, “Why Do I Really, Really Want to Say ‘Had Went’?”

… You see what [actor and director Jonah] Hill and [director Bryan] Fogel were doing, grammatically. They were using the preterite (ran, went) instead of the past participle (run, gone). This is by no means a new thing. Writing in 1781, John Witherspoon decried the “vulgarisms” had fell, had rose, had broke, had threw, and had drew.

Such constructions have long flourished in the American vernacular.

Standard English uses the PSP (past participle) form of a verb in the perfect construction and the passive construction (among other places). Ben says that some speakers and writers have different (syntactic) constructions here, using the PST (past, aka preterite — nothing hinges on the name) form instead of the PSP.

I maintain that Ben has seriously misunderstood the phenomenon here, and that Vern, the vernacular variety, doesn’t differ syntactically from Stan, the standard variety, with respect to the forms used in the perfect and the passive; it’s the PSP for both. It’s just that for some verbs, Vern pronounces the PSP differently from Stan; for Vern, the PSP form for these verbs is pronounced the same as their PST.

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What do you have?

November 25, 2018

The One Big Happy from October 12th, a dialogue between Joe and James in which we experience a tiny bit of the fabulous flexibility of the English verb have:

(#1)

James seems not to have registered the noun hobby (‘an activity done regularly in one’s leisure time for pleasure’ (NOAD)) and so takes hobbies in have hobbies to be the name of a disease, infection, or medical condition, like (the) mumps. For him, chickenpox and the mumps, but not hobbies is just an ordinary coordination, but for the rest of us, it’s prime-grade zeugma, like (I had) asthma and artistic inclinations — with the extra wrinkle that though both chickenpox and mumps end in a plural-resembling /s/ (and so superficially resemble the PL hobbies), both are grammatically SG:

chickenpox / (the) mumps once was / *were a common childhood disease, but vaccines have nearly eliminated it / *them [SG for subject-verb agreement and also for anaphor selection]

Two notes: on the morphosyntax of disease names; and on the extraordinary versatility of have (which just invites zeugmas and zeugmoids).

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Fruit cream tarts, one with pansy

September 14, 2018

(Not suitable for Facebook, because double entendres and incidental naked men, but not actually X-rated. Mostly about food.)

Fruit cream tarts, one with pansy. Plus a little Echeveria plant. These are more birthday presents from the 6th, from Juan Gomez and the aging care company he works for (a big tart — not merely una tarta, but un tartone — plus the little succulent) and from Kim Darnell (a cute fruit cream tartlet with a pansy).

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Just a hijink

June 28, 2018

The Adam@home strip from June 5th (recommended to me by Robert Coren):

(#1)

It’s all about this hijink, with SG hijink, (roughly) ‘joke, bit of playfulness’. The usage is rare.

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Beat Me, Daddy, Eight to the Bar

May 12, 2018

(On the social and sexual lives of gay men, with photos, so not to everyone’s taste. Almost surely not to Facebook’s taste.)

Recent Facebook conversation, initiated by poster J1:

First time being called “Daddy” while playing with a guy at a bar. Bittersweet!

With a response from J2:

Yeah, I can see the bittersweet part, for sure. Heh. I remember you as a total twink.

And from me:

Ah, those days. For me, it was papacito from a cute server at a Mexican restaurant. I was charmed.

daddy here is the name of a social identity, a gay “type” (like twink, bear, muscle-hunk, or leatherman); and by extension, of a subculture of men of this type; and by a different extension, of a role or relationship between men, between an older and a younger man. Such identities, subcultures, and roles can intersect and combine, as here:

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Water source of questionable information

April 7, 2018

This New Scientist cartoon by Tom Gauld:

Five nominals of the form N1 of Mod N2. The first panel has the model for the other four: the metaphorical idiom family fount of all N2, where N2 refers to a kind of information. The last four are somewhat snide plays on this original. In effect, the cartoon supplies a template for generating fresh — in two senses —  metaphorical idiom families on the basis of an attested one.

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STIR FRYS

January 12, 2018

From the recent Linguistic Society of America meetings in Salt Lake City, via Mike Pope, this sign in the window at the downtown restaurant Mollie & Ollie:

(#1)

Of linguistic note: the spelling STIR-FRYS — rather than STIR-FRIES — for the plural of the C[ount] noun STIR-FRY (most commonly spelled as hyphenated STIR-FRY, but occasionally solid STIRFRY or separated STIR FRY). This spelling preserves the identity of the base word FRY and so treats the noun STIR-FRY as an inviolable unit.

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I say it sounds yucky, and I say the hell with it

December 4, 2017

A Calvin and Hobbes re-run in today’s comics feed:

(#1)

Food aversions have many bases: appearance, taste, smell, texture, intensity of flavor, novelty, objections to ingredients (would you eat Bambi? Thumper? Fido? Fluffy? Porky? Sam the Clam?, Charlie the Tuna?), allergic reactions, unpleasant previous experiences — and aversion to the name, as with Calvin.

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Guess I’ll go eat worms

November 26, 2017

A follow-up to my posting on the 23rd, “Two Thanksgiving meals”, in which one of the meals had as its main dish vermicelli Singapore-style, with rice vermicelli as the base. So now I’m all about vermicelli.

Warming up to the pasta topic, let’s consider Zesty Anderson Davis consuming some string pasta made from wheat:

(#1) #2 in a 6/23/13 posting, showing Zesty AD sucking up worms (well, spaghetti) in a panoply of sexual imagery
(#2) Abasement, comfort food, or oral sex?

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