Archive for the ‘Language and medicine’ Category

The news from my house

November 23, 2022

Some news from my house, mostly to explain why there isn’t an actual posting today.

There is, first, affliction news, some of it good, some of it deeply annoying.

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NCOD 2022

October 11, 2022

It’s National Coming Out Day, and everything’s happening at once. Well, it’s NCOD and that’s a big thing in my world. All the more because it’s the day my man Jacques and I chose to serve as a surrogate wedding anniversary; actually, Jacques reasoned his way to October 11th as the best of all possible days, and I saw that he was right.

About J&A Day and NCOD, with affection, silliness, and a certain amount of playful raunchiness, see what I wrote last year in “This day”, and enjoy the Robert Emery Smith photograph of husband-equivalents J&A in 1996:

(#1)

Into this came, yesterday, the announcement from the Linguistic Society of America that Rusty Barrett had received the LSA’s Arnold Zwicky Award (for LGBTQ+ linguists); and then today the society’s COZIL LGBTQ+ History Month interview series for 2022, one of the three interviews being with me. Notes below.

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Blogger, interrupted

September 15, 2022


The Blogger, tied in furious knots

I was about the do a quick posting on Roger Federer, who announced his retirement from professional tennis today — because Federer is an admirable person in a whole series of ways, and because Federer is really really Swiss (he and I share the Alpine nose!).

But I was interrupted by Life, in ways mostly gratifying, but both time-consuming and exhausting, so the piece about RF and his splendid Swissness remains unfinished.

Well, the Federer piece interrupted my progress on a “RELAX ARNOLD” posting (about something that had popped up in a Facebook ad).

And “RELAX ARNOLD” took me away from posting on two other ads that had appeared suddenly: “funny aperitif board” and “the social lives of ruff dudes”.

And those two interrupted my advance on a whole set of half-prepared postings: “tastes like glazed donuts”, “ride the wild okapi”, and more.

I can’t imagine how I’m going to dig myself out of this hole.

But, you ask, how did I spend this day (after taking in the hot news about Federer)?

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Ask AZ: fat-fingered typos

June 26, 2022

In response to my posting yesterday on “Thing sliced ham” — “thing sliced [in English muffin topped with thing sliced ham] looks like a nice example of a pure typo, an error in hitting the right keys on a keyboard” — Mike Pope asks on Facebook today:

MP > AZ: To what extent does your understanding / explanation of typos overlap with the verb to fat-finger as used in tech (and possibly elsewhere)?

And my reply begins:

AZ > MP: As a largely tech-ignorant person, I wasn’t familiar with the usage, but, yes, another species of typo.

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Further annals of remarkable commerce

April 10, 2022

(Sex toys, anal pleasure, and all that jazz. Too crude for kids and the sexually modest.)

An e-mail ad from the Fort Troff company today:


(#1) The whole package, with two parts.

There’s the pig snout part — pig as in gay sexpig — and there’s the leather scent part.

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non-profits

April 4, 2022

Today’s morning name, the C[ount] noun non-profit, as in this real-life example (lifted from this very blog):

Partners of the Common Cents Lab are tech companies, banks, credit unions, non-profits, and government organizations

And in this NOAD entry:

adj. nonprofit [AZ: very frequently non-profit]: [attributive] not making or conducted primarily to make a profit: charities and other nonprofit organizations. noun mainly North American a nonprofit organization: I spent the next six years working for small nonprofits.

(With clearly C noun occurrences boldfaced)

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Zippyphrases 2

March 11, 2022

Some riffing on yesterday’s posting “Catchphrases for sale”, about this Zippy strip:


(#1) Offering fresh phrases — not already in circulation as catchphrases, sayings, proverbs, slogans, famous quotations, well-known names and titles, and the like — chosen at random

Zippy’s fresh phrases sound like catchphrases — roughly, free-standing expressions that you recognize as coming from a stock of quotations widely known in your culture, which then (if you wish) can be conventionally used to make some point — but are in fact novel. The things called catchphrases are then exquisitely embedded in particular cultures (note: “widely known in your culture” and also “can be conventionally used”).

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Bug on the couch

October 24, 2021

The 10/23 Wayno/Piraro Bizarro, a Psychiatrist cartoon, with a bug — specifically, a mosquito — on the couch (Wayno’s title: “Interspecies therapy”):


(#1) Consider the mosquito, how it grieves (if you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 8 (an unusually large number) in this strip — see this Page.)

Not just the Psychiatrist meme (with all of its conventions), but also:

— the intersection of the human world (in which people go to therapists) and the insect world (in which mosquitoes have six legs, antennae, compound eyes, and proboscises)

— the bug-on-windshield trope

— Rorschach ink blots, as used by clinical psychologists

— autopsy photos

— fatal polytrauma, such as sometimes occurs in car crashes

Fully appreciating the cartoon then calls on a wide range of knowledge, both factual and cultural. I’ll take for granted here the (extensive) conventions of the Psychiatrist meme and go on to the rest.

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Cuticura, it’ll cure ya

August 23, 2021

(As far as I know, not actually used as an advertising slogan for any of the line of Cuticura skin care products — probably too jaunty and wise-cracking for the company, which seems to have been marketing primarily to women since 1865.)

From my 8/17 posting “The grocery order”: “When I was a boy, I applied Vaseline (from the family medicine cabinet) to minor burns and scrapes”. There was Vaseline — petroleum jelly — and then there was a curious patent medicine for somewhat more serious skin problems, a thick green ointment with an intriguing medicinal scent, then sold in glass jars: Cuticura ( /kjùtɪkjúrǝ/ ).

Now, having recovered this childhood memory, I got curious about Cuticura’s history — and its ingredients. Some of my findings (sketchy, because the company’s website is not at all forthcoming with details, and the Wikipedia entry is skeletal) …

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Peter Mark’s clogged drain

August 13, 2021

Today’s Wayno/Piraro Bizarro, with a plumber who really knows how to sling synonyms:


(#1) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 7 in this strip — see this Page.)

Hard to believe that any actual person ever uttered egress conduit for drain pipe, or saponaceous residuum for soapy residue — or, better, soapy gunk. So the plumber’s report on an ordinary household repair is absurd; it’s as if he’d been seized by a terrible fit of technicalism that left him unable to resist thesaurisizing.

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