Archive for the ‘Language and sports’ Category


February 22, 2017

First brought to my attention by Ken Rudolph on Facebook, this reproduction of a political meathead collage, which has recently been widely disseminated on-line (without attribution):


Baloney face, banana hair

I put out a request for attribution on Facebook, and after some churning there, archarchivist Michael Palmer nailed it as the work of the very playful Spanish artist Asier Sanz (who uses the name Asier for his artwork):


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):




Morning name: javelina

March 17, 2016

The morning name from 2/10/16: javelina, the animal. Which then led to javelin, the weapon and equipment in a track and field event. No, they have absolutely nothing to do with one another, etymologically, phonologically, or semantically.


The Super Bowl looms

February 6, 2016

(There’s linguistic content here, but also considerable discussion of men’s bodies and man-man sexual acts, so this is not for kids or the sexually modest. For the rest of you, the man-man stuff includes some pretty extreme practices — not illustrated, but nevertheless described, and some will find this material distressing, though there’s not a whole lot of it. Just a warning.)

On Super Bowl 50, a gay gangbang, language play in porn, and the careening career of gay pornstar Dayton O’Connor, all of this inspired by an ad today under the header “C1R Locker Room Super Bowl Pass”, with two stills from the Channel 1 Releasing gay porn flick Gridiron Gang Bang: a locker room scene and a rear shot of Dylan O’Connor in football gear. The logo for the game:


And DO on display:



The Ascent of Bruce

January 21, 2016

In the February issue of Funny Times, this cartoon by political cartoonist Taylor Jones:

The third figure in the progression is Bruce Jenner, the fourth Caitlin Jenner.

Some words about Caitlin Jenner, and then a few on the Ascent of Man cartoon meme.


big game

November 22, 2015

Yesterday was the Big Game, between Stanford and Cal (the University of California at Berkeley), the Stanford Cardinal and the Cal Bears, in football:


(Stanford over Cal 28-16, at Stanford Stadium; much celebration)

Linguistic point 1: the usage of the expression The Big Game.

Linguistic point 2: the expression big game used to refer to animals.

Bonus: the movie Big Game.


Words of One Syllable Dept.

October 22, 2015

For some time now, the New York Times has been reporting, in almost daily stories, on the Canadian elections, culminating in Liberal Justin Trudeau succeeding Conservative Stephen Harper as Prime Minister. Some of these stories, by Ian Austen, refer to an episode in Trudeau’s past that some have interpreted as showing that Trudeau was not mature enough to serve as his nation’s political leader. A version from yesterday, in Austen’s “Justin Trudeau, Son of a Canadian Leader, Follows His Own Path to Power”, about Trudeau’s history:

Mr. Trudeau showed a penchant for unscripted remarks that could be refreshing or embarrassing. When Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that Canadian fighter jets would join the American-led campaign against the Islamic State militant group, Mr. Trudeau responded with a vulgar metaphor that many called juvenile.

Now, I’ve been following Canadian politics (at some distance, the way I follow American politics; it’s often a crazy, dirty business), and I recall Trudeau strongly opposing Harper’s fighter-jet proposal, but I don’t recall any “vulgar metaphor” or any outcry about one, and I can’t find any evidence of it on the net. Of course, the proudly fastidious Times wouldn’t actually cite offensive language, but Austen doesn’t even cite or link to any story in which the episode was reported in the clear, with context. So there’s no way for me to judge whether Trudeau “broke the unwritten law” (cue the Piranha Brothers) and merited opprobrium. Words of one syllable.

[Added a bit later: Ben Zimmer has now tracked down the actual quote, which is much less exciting than Austen made it out to be. More below to fold.]



October 3, 2015

Back on 9/23, I got e-mail from a representative of a California public radio station, sent at 9 a.m. (though I didn’t get to it until later), asking me to do an interview by phone for them at 11:45 that morning, on Yogi Berra and his language. Now, I was offended at the extremely short notice (though journalists do this to me a lot), and I had other reasons for not wanting to do it. After some thought, I decided to meet rudeness with rudeness and just delete the message.


Adjs in 2pbfVs

August 17, 2015

Two recent reports on ADS-L, both from baseball talk, about two-part back-formed verbs (2pbfVs) that have Adj (rather than N) as the first element: to official-score (back-formed from official scorer) and to situational-hit (back-formed from situational hitting). These will turn out to be less novel than they appear at first.



July 4, 2015

You can pick up a lot of random information in popular genres, like detective fiction and police procedural television shows. Murder mysteries are typically set in some small special world, so that you can learn a lot about that world: English change-ringing, say, in Dorothy Sayers’s The Nine Tailors. Similarly for episodes of cop shows (understood broadly). So yesterday I was treated to an hour’s drama on CSI: NY about the Lingerie Football League (as it was then), in season 6, episode 13 “Flag on the Play” (first broadcast on 1/20/10). Some LFL players in action, in real life:

An odd cross between sexualized display of the female body and athletic contest.