Archive for the ‘Idioms’ Category

Smell the roses in a field

February 26, 2021

Two cartoons in my comics feed on 2/25 (otherwise known as Yay! Pfizer1 Day! at my house) on language play: a Wayno/Piraro Bizarro playing on formulaic language (the metaphorical idiom / cliché stop and smell the roses), and a Piccolo/Price Rhymes With Orange with a play on the ambiguity of field.

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Taming the bull

February 13, 2021

In the New Yorker issue of 2/15&22/21, the winning caption to a drawing by Joe Dator:


(#1) ‘Twas commissions tamed the bull

Well, yes, the cartoon has the bull talking and taking orders and handling money and all that, but this is CartoonWorld, where animals routinely do such things. What’s remarkable is that the bull has given up a core aspect of his bull nature: aggressiveness (an especially troublesome characteristic in a creature of such size).

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The bull validates Peter’s family

February 7, 2021

Three more Bizarro cartoons from the past, from another crop on Pinterest, with: an allusion you need to catch to understand the cartoon; a complex pun; and laugh-inducing names.

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Two parrots and a pear tree

February 1, 2021

On Pinterest recently, a board devoted to Bizarro cartoons, including a fair number relevant to this blog but not previously posted here — from which, the three below (all the work of Dan Piraro alone, without Wayno’s collaboration). Two are about parrots and crackers (the first is also an instance of the Psychiatrist cartoon meme); the third offers a groaner pun on a sexual idiom previously discussed on this blog. (I’ll start with a digression on the most common way parrots figure in cartoons, as adjuncts to pirates.)

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Frequently asked questions

January 31, 2021

A Roz Chast cartoon in the latest (2/1/21) New Yorker:

Questions asked often enough that they border on clichés. They’re frequently asked questions — but they’re not Frequently Asked Questions, Frequently Asked Questions being an idiomatic expression usually reduced to an alphabetic abbreviation, the noun FAQ.

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Collocation restriction

January 17, 2021

Today’s Ada@Home cartoon by Rob Harrell exemplifies the restriction of lexical items to specific collocations:

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An old hand, and two young hands

December 17, 2020

In the latest (12/21) New Yorker, two cartoons that especially caught my eye: one by a very old hand in the business, George Booth (now 94); the other by two young women (roughly 30), Sophie Lucido Johnson and Sammi Skolmoski (both of whom are writers as well as artists). The Booth is an absurd literalization of the idiom (put the) cart before the horse. The SLJ/SS is wryly funny as it stands, but gains immeasurably if you know about a particular children’s book.

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A New Yorker trio

October 23, 2020

Three cartoons from the 10/26 New Yorker: two of linguistic interest (by Amy Hwang and Roz Chast), one (by Christopher Weyant) yet another Desert Island cartoon.

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No offense (intended)

October 15, 2020

From the American tv series Emergency! S7 E11 “The Convention” (from 7/3/79), a tv movie following the regular series. Two women end up serving as a paramedic team together — female paramedics were a new thing at the time, only grudgingly accepted, and they were normally paired with a male partner — so a male paramedic tells them the watch commander wouldn’t approve of the women teaming up. One of the women good-naturedly but pointedly snaps back at him:

(1a) How would you like a thick lip, to go with your thick head? No offense.

With the idiomatic tag No offense — a shorter version of No offense intended — literally meaning something like ‘I intend/mean you no offense by saying this’, but almost always conveying something more complex than that.

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goon squad goon squad goon squad

October 2, 2020

Somewhere in the first Presidential “debate”, or its immediate surrounding net discussion, the phrase goon squad appeared and seized my attention, so that I repeated it like a mantra. I was in the grip of onomatomania


Logo of the League of Legends South African esports team Goon Squad

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