Archive for the ‘Idioms’ Category

Ravioli stuffed with Italian sausage

July 9, 2022

(Some indirect and asterisked reference to man-on-man sex, but, hey, it’s from the Associated Press.)

Or: Love among the mobsters.  In some hot news:

Chicago (AP wire story) — An odd chapter in American mobsterdom came to an end in a hail of bullets yesterday as thugs of the Buonanotte crime family gunned down Pasquale “Patsy” Baloney, the famously vicious soldato for — and long-time secret lover of — capo Carlo “Charlie” Ravioli of the Bastardo family, who died of a massive heart attack only two months ago.

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The cadenza and the coda

April 29, 2022

Morning names for today (4/29), set off by a cadenza in a Mozart piano concerto that was playing when I got up just after midnight for a brief whizz break. The word cadenza led me immediately to coda, both musical bits coming at the end, also both sounding sort of Italian (which, in fact, they once were), indeed sounding very similar at their beginnings (/kǝd/ vs. /kod/) — but it turns out that though their etymologies both go back to Latin, a cadenza is a falling (or, metaphorically, a death) and a coda is a tail.

(#1) A tv ad: Help me! I’m in a cadenza and I can’t get up!

(#2) A linguistic Tom Swifty: “Coda, my ass! That’s a coati or a koala, I don’t know which”, quoted Cody in Kodiak.

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A masculinity meze: face men

April 27, 2022

(This has turned out to be quite a large meze, but it’s only about one idiomatic slang expression. Well, men and masculinity come into the thing, and you know what can happen then.)

Reflecting a couple days ago on my Princeton days (1958-62) and the tangle of the attitudes of the (all-male) students at the time towards (among things) masculinity, male affiliation (as systematized in a pervasive system of male bands, the eating clubs of the time), women, homosexuals, race, and social class. The topic is vast, also deeply distressing to me personally, and I suspect that I’ll never manage to write about the bad parts of it in any detail — note: there were some stunningly good parts — but in all of that I retrieved one lexical item of some sociolinguistic interest (and entertainment value), one slang nugget: the idiomatic N1 + N2 compound noun face man / faceman / face-man.

A common noun frequently used among my friends, which was then also deployed as a proper noun nicknaming one of our classmates, a young man notable for his facial male beauty: everybody had to have a nickname (mine was Zot, for the Z of my name and the cartoon anteater), so we called him Face Man because he was a face man.

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Four approaches to sucking someone’s socks off

February 4, 2022

(Full of linguistic expressions referring to genitals and sexual acts, but not depicting these acts or treating them as cultural practices.)

A heavy-linguistics follow-up to my 11/5/21 posting “I want to suck your socks off”, which told the moving tale of a sexual encounter between the characters Alex and Jake, the center of which is a sub-episode beginning with Jake declaring to Alex:

I want to suck your socks off (A)

conveying, roughly, ‘I want to give you enormous satisfaction by fellating you to orgasm’, that is, ‘I want to give you a truly fabulous blow job’ — a vow that Jake then proceeded to make good on.

This posting isn’t about raunchy acts like Jake’s — I hope to, um, flesh out the tale of Jake and Alex in another posting — but about English VPs like the one underlined in (A), Jake’s raunchily colloquial

suck your socks off (B)

Call VP (B) syoso for short; I’ll have a lot to say about syoso. It turns out that it’s at least four-ways ambiguous, though in the sex-drenched context of the Jake and Alex story, you’re probably going to recognize only sense 4, sexual syoso.

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Bizarros of the Solstice, Festivus, and Christmas

December 25, 2021

Wayno/Piraro Bizarro cartoons for the 21st (Winter Solstice), 23rd (Festivus, for the airing of grievances), and 25th (Christmas Day). The first two are Christmas-related, but today’s is not (at least in any way I can see), so in a spirit of holiday orneriness, I’ll start with that one.

12/25: the Fritz Carlton:


(#1) Ritz on the fritz (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 6 in this strip — see this Page.)

Fritz Carlton: an erratic portmanteau of on the fritz ‘not functioning’ and Ritz-Carlton the luxury hotel chain. (Note: the desk clerk is a supercilious Frenchman, an imagined present-day César Ritz.)

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Eye charts

December 17, 2021

Yet another cartoon meme, the Eye Chart, with an instance in today’s Wayno/Piraro Bizarro, set in the fictive city of Metropolis:


(#1) It’s a bird… It’s a plane… It’s Superman (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 5 in this strip — see this Page.)

Yes, it’s also an instance of the “It’s a bird” meme. Memes tend to travel together, like elephants, or municipal buses.

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Lumber linguistics

December 4, 2021

Today’s Zippy strip takes exploits the giant hammer outside the Ford Lumber Co. in Fort Washington MD to skitter over language-related matters — the metaphorical character of many common idioms, the innateness of language (abilities), natural language ontology — to lodge in a fixation on food that Zippy finds intrinsically funny (in this case, egg creams and V-8 juice):


(#1) Zippy’s attributions are a bit wonky — it’s Lakoff, not Chomsky, who hammers on the centrality of metaphor, though linguistic nativism is indeed a Chomskyan preoccupation — but then Zippy’s a surrealistic Pinhead, not a pinhead professor, and anyway, you say linguist, the popular mind thinks Chomsky, so Zippy has his finger on the pulse of the people here (even if ontology pours into egg creams for him and even if he seems to be hammered on V-8)

Meanwhile, there’s the news from Fort Washington MD.

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Break, break, break

December 1, 2021

🐇 🐇 🐇 In the 11/2 One Big Happy, Joe fails to honor a promise, which of course makes Ruthie think about hyphenating printed text:

(#1)

NOAD on the verb break (Joe: sense 3a; Ruthie: sense 1a) and the noun word (Joe: sense 3b; Ruthie: sense 1a):

verb break:

1 [a] separate or cause to separate into pieces …

… 3 [with object] [a] fail to observe (a law, regulation, or agreement)

noun word:

1 [a] a single distinct meaningful element of speech or writing, used with others (or sometimes alone) to form a sentence and typically shown with a space on either side when written or printed

… 3 (one’s word) [a] one’s account of the truth, especially when it differs from that of another person: in court it would have been his word against mine. [b] a promise or assurance: everything will be taken care of — you have my word. …

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Pissing and moaning with Ed Koren

November 24, 2021

From the 2018 cartoon collection Koren in the Wild (my copy of which arrived today), this New Yorker cartoon (published in the magazine on 9/6/99):


Working-class masculinity — the bar, pissing and moaning — meets the intellectual — verify what you’re saying with data: who verifies their pissing and moaning with data?

Then there’s the slang idiom to piss and moan.

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Now we’re cooking with carrots

November 20, 2021

From Ann Gulbrandsen (in Sweden) on Facebook today, a wonderful still life of earthy carrots:

Ann wrote (in Swedish; what follows is the Google Translate version in English, which is, um, flatfooted, with one paraphrase by me):

Thought to pick up the last small harvest of carrots when it will be minus degrees next week. I clearly underestimated what was [underground]. May be cooking with carrots [Sw. matlagning med morötter] a couple of weeks ahead.

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