Archive for the ‘Language and ethnicity’ Category

News for really clean penises

September 16, 2022

(No actual penises are depicted, but there’s plenty of penis-talk, so this posting will not be to everyone’s taste)

Offered on Etsy, from LoveLeeSoaps, this hot dog soap set ($12):


(#1) A (phallic) simulacrum of a phallic symbol (starting with the hot dog as symbolic penis) — but intended not for ordinary cleansing purposes (though entirely usable this way), but as a practical joke, a prank, turning on the meticulous realistic detail in the simulacrum

The ad copy:

This soap is made with moisturizing ingredients and looks just like the real thing. They would make the perfect gift for any prankster or even something special for yourself. Place it in a guest bathroom and watch your guests faces when they realize its all soap! This set is large and it even comes packaged inside a retro hot dog bag.

Of course the set is large; this is America, and size matters here.

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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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Don’t ask!

January 31, 2021

Today’s morning name, but it comes with crucial context. The Don’t ask! in question is not the neutral use of the negative imperative, advising the addressee not to ask someone about something (Don’t ask them about the ducks in the kitchen; that just makes them crazy), but instead is a formula of Yiddish-influenced English, normally used only by (American) Jews (or gentiles culturally close to this community), when someone has in fact just asked about the matter in question (the tsuris tsores ‘troubles’); the speaker doesn’t go on to avoid this sensitive matter, but instead embraces it, launching into kvetching ‘complaining’ about it.

The formula Don’t ask!  then serves as an announcement — a kind of alarm bell, if you will — that the speaker is about to go off on a (perhaps extended) kvetch.

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Latinx

September 22, 2020

From the Vox site “Latina, Latino, or LatinX? Here’s how the term came about: The gender-neutral term that’s supposed to be for everyone, well, isn’t” by Terry Blas on 10/23/19

The occasion for this posting is a net conference yesterday on latinx — referring to an orthographic form; also to its various pronunciations by speakers of Spanish; and especially to its choice as an racial/ethnic/cultural (self-)descriptor.

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The ceramic grocery store

May 23, 2020

NOTE: The beginning of this posting is perfectly fine, but it turns out to be about not Stanford’s Steph Shih, but instead about a New York-based ceramic artist Stephanie H. Shih. From her website:

STEPHANIE H. SHIH explores concepts of home —— not just as a physical place, but also as cultural, generational, and emotional spaces we inhabit —— through the lens of Asian-American identity. Her work has been shown at the American Museum of Ceramic Art (Pomona, CA), Wieden+Kennedy (Portland, OR), and Hashimoto Contemporary (San Francisco, CA) and featured by NPR, Los Angeles Times, Vogue, The New York Times, and The New Yorker. She lives in Brooklyn.

(Rueful thanks to Patrick Callier for exposing my error to me.)

I will now attempt to reorganize the previous material to preserve the discussion of the ceramic art, which I find moving; and to preserve a celebration of Stanford graduate Steph Shih, for her multifarious academic and artistic talents

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Ultimate spelling bee

May 31, 2019

A Bob Eckstein cartoon circulated today, on the occasion of an unprecedented event in the world of English spelling competitions:


(#1) FB note from Bob: “Can you use it in a sentence?”

Story in the New York Times today,  “National Spelling Bee, at a Loss for Words, Crowns 8 Co-Champions” (octo-champs, as one of them said) by Daniel Victor.

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bunny ears

May 21, 2018

It started with a candid photo of people at a social gathering, with one person making a V hand gesture behind the head of the person next to them, much as in this photo of pro tennis players:

(#1) Swiss jock jokery:  Stan Wawrinka doing the ‘bunny ears’ gesture behind Roger Federer

Bunny-earing someone is a prank (NOAD on the noun prank: ‘a practical joke or mischievous act’), pranks being a very culture-specific form of play + humor that deserve analytic attention that I’m not able to provide, but will just take as a cultural given here.

To come: a bit of the history of bunny-earing; senses of the expression bunny ears (illustrating (mostly metaphorical) sense developments in many directions); and uses of the V hand gesture (illustrating symbolic functions of many different kinds; the gesture itself is “just stuff”, without intrinsic meaning, which can be exploited for many different symbolic purposes). The act, the meanings of the linguistic expression for the act, the cultural significances (or “social meanings”) of the act.

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Mayotoon

May 5, 2018

For National Cartoonists Day, this Bizarro/Wayno collaboration from 2010:

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

Ah, the Banana Peel trope. Get a cartoonist!

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The saguaro in bloom

December 7, 2017

Here in northern California, we’ve had some early rain — not very often and not a lot, but enough to turn the golden hillsides to bright new green. And enough to convince the cacti and succulents in Stanford’s Arizona Garden that Their Time Has Come, so they’re bursting with new growth and breaking out in flowers. Notably, a big ol’ saguaro cactus has thrown out huge creamy blossoms, much like these in this photo from the net:

(#1) The state flower of AZ; NM claims the yucca

Meanwhile, the saguaro serves as an anthromorphic symbol — a man with both arms in the air — and a phallic symbol (an interpretation encouraged by the fact that the cactus is, oh dear, prickly).

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He had an American name

October 8, 2017

Yesterday, on the Our Bastard Language group on Facebook, this entertaining item passed on by two members of the group from Thunder Dungeon’s page:

(#1)

Despite the fact that many Americans are accustomed to confronting, almost every day, names they don’t recall ever having heard before — well, most of us have ancestries from elsewhere, a lot of different elsewheres — there are still many names we recognize as “American”, even if we have some sense of the ethnic heritage of the bearers of those names. They might be perceived as English, Scots, Dutch, Irish, German, Jewish, Italian, Mexican-American, French, or whatever, but for us they count as American. And we are keenly aware of divergences from the set of typically American names, as above: Steve is an American personal name, Sleve is not; Dwight is an American personal or family name, Dwigt is not; Hudnutt is an American family name, Dugnutt is not; Gonzalez is an American family name, Bonzalez is not.

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