Archive for the ‘Language and plants’ Category

Blue and black at the Gamble Garden

August 15, 2019

In anticipation of a visit to Palo Alto’s Gamble Garden with motss.conners on Saturday, two items from my last visit to the garden (on 7/31): blue flax-lilies, which are neither flax nor lily plants, but do have bright blue berries; and dark purple, almost black, hollyhocks.

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Minimal pears

August 8, 2019

The morning name for Thursday was a linguist’s joke, the punning name minimal pear. In the morning, visions of sugar-pears danced in my head — cute little Seckel pears, specifically. Along with the linguists’ minimal pairs, like seat – sheet for /s/ vs. /š/ in English. (And, since there’s always someone who thinks of this when minimal pairs are mentioned: small testicles or breasts.)

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perennial, evergreen, hardy

June 4, 2019

From an exchange on Facebook a few days ago, in which (at least) two of the participants use the term perennial to refer to plants that are green all year round, that don’t lose their leaves for a dormant season. The discussion was set off by DA (not knowing the privacy wishes of the participants, I refer to them by their initials), posting about a practice that puzzles him:

DA: I never understood why [people] bother to plant [fruit] trees that don’t bear fruit.

To which DS replied with a number of reasons for the practice, but along the way introducing perennial in the sense ‘green all year long’ (relevant materal boldfaced):

DS: They provide many other benefits, for birds, shade, soil augmentation … they hold together hills so they don’t wash away .. and much more. Besides, they can be lovely. As far as I know, there are no perennial fruit trees so they can’t be used for privacy.

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The dog of ivy

June 3, 2019

… stands guard in the San Fernando Valley, providing poodle thoughts for Zippy on his morning walk today:


(#1) Zipphorism: “Sometimes I feel like my thoughts are thinking me”

We are figments of our thoughts’ imagination; the topiary poodle tells us so.

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Follow-up: magenta greens

June 1, 2019

Following up on my posting yesterday, “Flirting with magenta” (about three plants with magenta flowers), Randy McDonald has sent me a piece from the site Speed River Journal: An urban naturalist’s progress: “Magenta spreen, a worthy spring green” on 5/29/19 by Van Waffle — about the plant often known as tree spinach:


(#1) Close-up of Chenopodium giganteum leaves (from Wikipedia)

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Flirting with magenta

May 31, 2019

Visit to Palo Alto’s Gamble Garden yesterday, to enjoy the wild display of summer flowers, picking out three attractive plants I hadn’t previously posted about: Lychnis coronaria ‘Alba’ (a plant with — surprise! — white flowers); Montiopsis umbellata ‘Ruby Tuesday’ (from Peru and Chile, a rock garden plant with stunning deep purple flowers); and a Hebe hybrid (a small shrub with blue flowers). It turns out that the Lychnis usually has magenta flowers, and so does the Montiopsis; and the Hebe comes in lots of colors in the blue-pink-white range, including a magenta variant. So: no actual magenta, but three flirtations with it.

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Wisely seasoned

May 30, 2019

Today’s Rhymes With Orange crosses the Godzilla cartoon meme with the Wise Man cartoon meme, all for a tasty dinner:


(#1) A pun on wise man sage / culinary herb sage

Two Godzillans, with a poultry truck to cook for dinner (most Godzillans eat their vehicles raw, but these two appear to be refined monsters), contemplate using a little wise man — a little sage — as seasoning. (The appropriate sense of little (‘small in size, amount, or degree’) follows from the sense of sage: a wise man small in size, a small amount of the herb.)

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Semantics of compounds

May 28, 2019

The semantics of English modifier + head nominal composites — but especially of N + N compounds — is a recurrent topic on this blog; the array of semantic relationships exemplified in the data here is enormous, and might give the impression that things are just chaotic, though I’ve tried to pull out frequent patterns that dominate the data. One way to approach the matter in more nuanced fashion is to search for preferences for certain kinds of interpretations according to the semantics of the component elements.

And now, just appeared, we have “Systematicity in the semantics of noun compounds: The role of artifacts vs. natural kinds” by Beth Levin, Lelia Montague Glass, and Dan Jurafsky, in the De Gruyter journal Linguistics. Published online 5/16/19; I’ve found no volume, issue, and page numbers for the print version, but this is the DOI, and Lelia now reports that a pdf is freely available here. The abstract:

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Annals of fruity goodness: the strawberry file

May 20, 2019

(Warning: It ends with indirect allusion to mansex and with two shirtless actors, arms around each other’s shoulders, showing their stuff in their underwear.)

A recent posting in the My Home is California group on Facebook:

(a) I dreamed of photographing a sliced strawberry …, thinking it was a fruit. It is actually more closely related to a rose.

To which I now respond, first:

(b) I dreamed of photographing a sliced potato, thinking it was a vegetable. It is actually more closely related to a petunia.

And, second:

(c) I dreamed of photographing James Franco, thinking he was a fruit. He is actually more closely related to a piece of meat.

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Parade of Fangs, Eye of the Pumpkin

May 12, 2019

I’ll get to the fangs and the pumpkin eventually, but first a taxonomic puzzle in botany and two botanical puzzles in (Mexican) Spanish, triggered by this Pinterest photo from a while back:


(#1) [as captioned by its (Mexican) poster] Lirio plantasonya

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