Archive for the ‘Idioms’ Category

Taking the job description literally

September 17, 2016

Two recent Dilberts:

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First Dilbert and the quality assurance guy Alan, then the pointy-haired boss and Alan.

Standard dictionaries don’t seem to have the technical use of assurance in quality assurance, though there is a techie Wikipedia entry on quality assurance that relates the expression to the verb ensure, rather than to the verb assure that the literalist Alan sees in it.

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How’s that coming?

September 5, 2016

A P.C. Vey cartoon in the latest (Sept. 5th) New Yorker:

Three things: the parallel between a steak on the grill and a book in progress; authorial anxiety over writing on something and completing it; and the pragmatics of the idioms in how’s it going? and how’s it coming?

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A Minneapolis fling

September 5, 2016

Today’s Zippy takes us to Minneapolis MN, where people are flinging bowling balls, flinging them down Memory Lanes:

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Two OBHs

September 4, 2016

Two recent One Big Happy strips, one with Joe updating a nursery rhyme (with Ruthie’s help), one with Ruthie once again in the Land of Ambiguity:

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Fixed expressions

August 7, 2016

Two recent cartoons turning on fixed expressions, compounds in fact: a Rhymes With Orange and a One Big Happy:

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The 31-room elephant in the room

July 5, 2016

Today’s Zippy, with 19th-century novelty architecture:

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Monday language comics

May 16, 2016

Two Monday comics on linguistic topics: a Calvin and Hobbes with an unfortunate ambiguity (pitch the tent), and a Zits with a portmanteau for a combo sport (dodgebowl):

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Punch in the presence of the passenjare

May 15, 2016

About the British humo(u)r magazine (my cartoon/comics library has two anthologies from the publication; the second has the Ed Fisher cartoons I posted about yesterday) and about its long history (going back to 1841). The magazine was given to plays on the word punch, but so far as I can tell, not involving the quotation in the title of this posting — a 140-year-old meme, but a North American one.

To come: the magazine; uses of the word punch; and “Punch in the presence of the passenjare”.

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Ain’t it the truth?

April 5, 2016

In today’s feed, this One Big Happy from 3/7:

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The linguistic point: Ruthie’s mother’s “Ain’t it the truth?” — ain’t in the speech of someone who almost surely isn’t otherwise a user of this word. Instead, she’s playfully quoting a very widespread non-standardism, much as if she’d said “C’est vrai!” or “Veritable!”, in French, in the middle of an English conversation, conveying the equivalent of informal “That’s for sure!” or “You said it!”

The McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs (2002) has an entry for “Ain’t it the truth” as a conventionalized expression, both in non-standard varieties and as an importation into informal standard speech:

Rur. or Jocular That is true.; Isn’t that true? (Used to agree with a statement someone has made.) Jane: I swear, life can be a trial sometimes. Bill: Yes, Lordy. Ain’t it the truth?

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Look who’s talking!

April 1, 2016

Interplay between the characters (Richard) Castle and (Kate) Beckett in a re-run from the show (season 1 epsode 8, “Ghosts”, originally broadcast 4/27/09) when they come across a suspect’s room littered with photographs of and clippings about another character:

(1) Look who’s stalking!

Ouch, the pun, on

(2) Look who’s talking!

— an expression that might remind you of the movie. From Wikipedia:

Look Who’s Talking is a 1989 romantic comedy film written and directed by Amy Heckerling, and stars John Travolta and Kirstie Alley. Bruce Willis plays the voice of Mollie’s son, Mikey. The film features George Segal as Albert, the illegitimate father of Mikey.

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