Archive for the ‘Count & mass’ 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’:

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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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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:

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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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Just a hijink

June 28, 2018

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

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

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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:

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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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A processed food flavor

October 20, 2017

That’s from the NYT on the 17th (on-line), Frank Bruni’s op-ed column “Will Pumpkin Spice Destroy Us All?”:

(#1) In the labyrinth of pumpkin spice

It’s invention run amok, marketing gone mad, the odoriferous emblem of commercialism without compunction or bounds. It’s the transformation of an illusion — there isn’t any spice called pumpkin, nor any pumpkin this spicy — into a reality.

Pumpkin on its own is bland. What to do, if you’re not fond of bland? Pumpkin pie can get some pizazz from spices — especially cinnamon and nutmeg, also used to flavor eggnog, for similar reasons.

Such spice mixtures have been around for centuries, but only in recent years has pumpkin (pie) spice achieved commercial superstardom. Leading to Bruni’s comic savaging above, and to a Kaamran Hafeez cartoon (yesterday’s daily cartoon for the New Yorker).

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Pizza Boy outtakes

October 12, 2017

(About English, but in the context of a gay porn flick, with plain-language discussions of men’s bodies and mansex, so not for kids or the sexually modest.)

Two items of linguistic interest that came up in preparing a posting (soon to appear) on pizza boys as cultural figures, especially in gay porn, the great work of the genre being William Higgins’s 1986 The Pizza Boy: He Delivers. From scene 5 of the movie, the sexual slang canyon yodeling ‘anilingus’ and an occurrence of underwear as a plural count N.

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Squid Pro Quo

May 20, 2017

This Non Sequitur cartoon by Wiley Miller:

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squid / quid. And squid as a source of ink, squid as food. .

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Special counsel appointed

May 19, 2017

Informed opinion has been very positive about the appointment of Mueller as special counsel to investigate allegations in the semolina affair. Commenters are generally agreed that Mueller is a respected authority in such matters, with a long public career in the field and experience in both semolina matters and the byzantine world of elbow-cheese casseroles.

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ice plants

May 16, 2017

… that is, plants in the Aizoaceae, or ice plant, family. On the occason of recent visits to Palo Alto’s Gamble Garden, where there’s a spread of gorgeous Lampranthus spectabilis (syn. Mesembryanthemum spectabile), trailing ice plant:

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(photo by Kim Darnell)

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