Archive for the ‘Language and the sexes’ Category

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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Lauren la flâneuse

March 15, 2017

In the NYT Book Review on 3/5/1 7, under the heading “Walk on By” — subtitle (in print) “A tribute to the pleasures of aimless urban exploration, female style”, (on-line) “A Celebration of Women’s Pleasure in Wandering a City” — a review by Diane Johnson of Flâneuse: Women Walk the City in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice, and London by Lauren Elkin (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2016).

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The cover art captures well Elkin’s reconfiguring the identity of the flâneur, for nearly 200 years the exclusive property of men, as a female identity, the flâneuse. Still urban and modern and primarily European in outlook, but now available to women (of independent spirit).

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Animal instincts

November 7, 2016

Today’s Bizarro:

(If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 2 in this strip — see this Page.)

Lionesses do most (but not all) of the hunting for a pride, often in groups, so it’s appropriate that Piraro’s character, retired from the hunt to take up office work, is depicted as a female secretary.

Then there’s the idea that hunting down and devouring prey is an almost uncontrollable animal instinct, urge, or drive — in the very nature of lions — which requires constant effort to keep in check.

Ah, we’ve seen an analogous idea in a very different sphere.

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Sexual advance?

October 3, 2015

A Dilbert from a while back (9/23) with co-workers Alice and Ted at cross-purposes:

People are inclined to sexualize social relations between the sexes, to the point where some people are dubious that men and women can have non-sexually tinged friendships, and this inclination seems to be particularly strong among men. The rather dim-witted Ted is a pretty extreme case.

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Annals of advertising: patriotism, sex, and overwhelming mouthfuls of food

June 9, 2015

It burst recently (with actual fireworks) onto the American fast-food scene: the Most American Thickburger from Carl’s Jr. / Hardees:

This clip doesn’t include the final tag, “Because America, that’s why” (with the recently popular because NP construction). But the entertaining businessday (NZ) story about the ad does.

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Crossword puzzle words

November 16, 2014

Today’s Rhymes With Orange:

The cartoon is partly about the relations between the sexes, with the man “doing” the crossword puzzle by getting all the words from the woman. It’s also about those words — all of them “crossword puzzle words”, ranging from relatively rare (ARIA) to extremely rare (SMA) in everyday usage.

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