Archive for the ‘Idioms’ Category

Your money’s no good here

March 16, 2016

Today’s Bizarro, exploiting an ambiguity in pragmatics, use in discourse contexts:


(If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 3 in this strip — see this Page.)

Your money’s no good here has a use as a pragmatic idiom, conventionally conveying that at this moment it’s of no use in the context because the services or goods it’s being offered for are being supplied for free, are complimentary, are “on the house”. But in the cartoon, the bartender is speaking literally, saying that the customer’s money is no good here because it’s not in fact legal tender.


Ruthie v. idioms

March 10, 2016

Yesterday’s One Big Happy has Ruthie coping with idiomaticity:

The whole idiom here is (be) out of sorts (with two somewhat different senses), and Ruthie understands something of its meaning as a whole, but she’s also trying to understand it as to some extent compositional, with the parts out of and a noun sorts (whatever that refers to). There are several possible senses for out of; the one Ruthie’s fixed on is an opposite of in (but there’s at least one other sense she might have gone for).


butt/booty, dial/call

January 20, 2016

Yesterday’s Rhymes With Orange:

The nouns butt and booty overlap in their uses, and so do the verbs dial and call, and so do the related nouns dial and call. However… the compound nouns butt dial and booty call (also the related verbs butt dial and booty call) are both slang idioms, and they aren’t at all interchageable.



December 24, 2015

Heard in a tv commercial for Scratch-Aide:

Let’s face it: if you’ve got wood, you’ve got scratches.

Unintendedly, with an ambiguity in got wood: the literal ‘have wood’ and the idiomatic ‘have an erection’ (of the penis), ‘have a woody / boner / hard-on’.


Like Father, Like Son

December 1, 2015

Over on AZBlogX, a long and fairly intricate posting about the gay porn flick Like Father, Like Son (LFLS), which came up as the focus of the Titan Cyber Monday sale. There are 19 images in the posting, all of them except the first (the image in the ad) unquestionably X-rated, so that posting is not for the kiddies or the sexually modest. (I’ll look at the first image below.) There are occasional flickers of linguistic interest, but they are scarcely the point.

The theme of the flick is intergenerational sex between men, centering on two young men who are best buddies and also sex partners, and on their fathers. The sons seek sex with older men as well as with one another, and they contrive to arrange things so that each will have sex with the other’s father, thus satisfying their desires while avoiding the incest taboo: I won’t do my dad (that would be icky), but I’ll do yours, bro (that would be hot hot hot). This sets up a complex symmetry of a sort worthy of comic opera, with the additional wrinkle that all the characters are randy gay men (with, of course, monumentally huge penises, which the sons inherited from their fathers), so everyone wants to have sex with everyone else, except for the father-son pairings.


Rhyme or reason

November 30, 2015

Today’s Bizarro, with an idiom and a nursery rhyme:

(If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 2 in this strip — see this Page.)

So we have Humpty Dumpty, recently fallen from his wall, but no explanation of how this terrible event could have come to pass.


motion-goal BE

November 23, 2015

Overheard at lunch a few days ago:

(1) We’re going to Puerto Rico for the holidays; I’ve never been.

My first interpretation of the (elliptical) second clause was as

(2) I’ve never been to Puerto Rico.

with what I’ll call “motion-goal BE” in the pattern:

(3) HAVE been [PP to PLACE ]

where the lexical item BE is a motion verb, roughly glossable as ‘go’, so that (3) conveys ‘HAVE gone to PLACE’. Think of Charlene singing

(4) Ooh I’ve been to Georgia and California, and, anywhere I could run
…  I’ve been to paradise, but I’ve never been to me

(I’ll get to Charlene in a while. Meanwhile, you can hear her singing “I’ve Never Been to Me” by going to this YouTube site. Note: opinions about this song are strongly polarized: many people think it’s one of the world’s worst songs, while others think it provides wonderful advice about attending to your feelings. Please: I am not soliciting opinions here.)

Or with past perfect rather than present perfect:

(5) I realized that I’d been to Georgia and not eaten a single peach.

There’s a lot to be said about motion-goal BE, beyond its having BE as a motion verb.


cowboy up!

November 6, 2015

Recently run across by accident, a reference to a Kindle “book” (apparently a self-published manuscript) entitled “How to cowboy up and stop being such a pussy” by “Max Powerz”. The author’s description:

A much needed guide for many men who have evolved into being unable to change a tire, cook a steak, kill a rodent, or God forbid, say a naughty word..

And the cover:


Note the pink panties, a symbol of what happens to the man who doesn’t cowboy up. The dreaded specter of feminization.

The idiom cowboy up here seems to be man up on steroids. (On man up, see this posting of 8/11/13.)


Morning: the call of nature

October 13, 2015

Yesterday’s morning expression on awakening (with a need to answer the call of nature) was not exactly a name, but, well, the NP the call of nature. That led to the product Serutan — that is a name — and, in another direction, to the PP against nature, which I’ll reserve for another day.

Basic dictionary work. From NOAD2:

call of nature  used euphemistically to refer to a need to urinate or defecate.

and AHD5:

A need to urinate or defecate. Often used with answer: He left the room to answer the call of nature.

Idiom dictions are roughly similar, and some offer nature’s call as an alternative.


Two New Yorker cartoons

October 9, 2015

Two recent cartoons: a Zach Kanin on the male body in cartoons (in the 9/28 issue), a Liam Francis Walsh on social media (in the 10/5 issue):