Archive for the ‘Language and the sexes’ Category

Just one peanut

January 13, 2020

(Lots of off-color jokes, some of them gay-inflected, along with a number of peanut cartoons. So: crude, and perhaps not to everyone’s taste.)

Today’s Rhymes With Orange — entertaining if you get the crucial pop culture allusion, incomprehensible if you don’t:


(#1) An elephant at the doctor’s office, with an x-ray showing the contents of his stomach to be a top hat, a monocle, and a cane; in the face of this evidence, the doctor asks the patient if he’s sure that all he ate was one peanut (presupposing that the patient has claimed just that)

How does this even make sense, much less be funny? Even granting the poploric association between elephants and peanuts — which is actually pretty baffling (see below) — why do peanuts come up in #1 at all? We have a trio of men’s accessories and no visible peanuts.

There’s a hint in the bonus commentary on the left: elephant to elephant, “It’s a medical Mister-y”, where the clue is Mister. But the clue is useless if you don’t know your way around the symbolic figures of American commerce.

You have to be a friend of Mister Peanut.

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The trail mixer

April 6, 2019

Maggie Larson cartoon in the New Yorker‘s 4/8/19 issue:


(#1) (Dried) fruits and nuts meeting and greeting, under the disco ball

A POP (phrasal overlap portmanteau): trail mixer = trail mix + mixer. Combining two elements very much grounded in particular sociocultural worlds (plus that disco ball glittering overhead).

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On the doo-wop gender train from the past

November 11, 2018

Going the Facebook rounds:

the song that was number 1 on your 14th birthday defines your life

(pretty clearly intended: #1 in the US — though you could certainly carp about that)

Hey nonny ding dong: it’s “Sh-Boom (Life Could Be a Dream)” as recorded by the Crew-Cuts in 1954.


(#1) Trading card photo of The Crew-Cuts. In 1957, Topps gum cards issued a series of movie stars, television stars and recording stars.

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The cartoon milkman

September 11, 2018

… and a bad grandpa pun, in the One Big Happy from 8/14:

(#1)

(The characters, left to right in the first and last panels: the neighbor boy James; the son of the OBH family, Ruthie’s older brother Joe; and Joe’s grandfather.)

Grandpa reproduces a bit of culture lore, about liaisons between housewives and milkmen. The boys are no doubt somewhat vague about what would be involved in a woman’s running off with the milkman. But, more pressingly, they don’t know what a milkman is: the N +  N compound is scarcely transparent semantically, so unless you’ve actually had milkmen in your experience, tales of women and milkmen are just baffling.

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Three weekend cartoons: POP goes the caveman couple, recursively

April 8, 2018

A Bizarro/Wayno (the POP), a Rhymes With Orange (the Caveman meme plus relations between the sexes), and a One Big Happy (the recursion):

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The Hollywood sign in a time of troubles

December 8, 2017

Among recent editorial cartoons on sexual harassment cases are three that use the Hollywood sign as a symbol of things gone wrong in la-la land.

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Husbands and wives

September 22, 2017

Three veins of spousal humor, starting in the early 19th century and ending in an edgily close-to-life comic stereotype realized in cartoons, tv shows, and movies.

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Sports Monday Linguistics

September 20, 2017

Surely a record for the NYT sports section: both stories on the front page of Sports Monday this week were about language — language, televised sports, and gender; and language learning, baseball, and tv shows:

“Safest Bet in Sports: Men Complaining About a Female Announcer’s Voice” (on-line head) by Julie Dicaro.

“‘Friends,’ the Sitcom That’s Still a Hit in Major League Baseball” (on-line head) by James Wagner.

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Revisiting 7: NL:W

September 17, 2017

Yesterday, a posting on the story of a joke (Not Lady: Wife, NL:W for short) whose canonical form is

A: Who was that lady I saw you with last night?
B: That was no lady; that was my wife.

The vector for the spread of the joke seems to have been the vaudeville team Weber & Fields, who allegedly used it in their stage routines over a century ago. But I found no first-hand reports, so I appealed to the hounds of ADS-L for attestations. This netted a clear occurrence from 1859, but embedded in a long and complex back story (though again with the stage German accent of W&F). And an earlier British antecedent.

Then Larry Horn chimed in with some astute observations on the semantics and pragmatics of NL:W.

All will be reproduced here.

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The NL:W punchline

September 16, 2017

The lead-in tag to my recent posting on marmots:

That’s no beaver, that’s my marmot!

A take-off on a punchline to a vaudeville joke from long ago, a line that’s been played with many thousands of times in the last century. The No Lady: Wife (NL:W) formula, in two common instantiations in a two-man exchange:

1 A: Who was that lady I saw you with last night?
B: She was no lady. She was my wife.

2 A: Who was that lady I saw you with last night?
B: That was no lady; that was my wife.

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