Archive for the ‘Language in advertising’ Category

Annals of art: statues of the iron prince

November 26, 2019

Today’s Zippy takes us to Alma AR, where Popeye rules with cans of spinach:

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This Popeye, who claimed to be the true Popeye and to be carved of wood (all others — especially the one in the cartoons — being mere dissemblers, pretenders, imitators), this grotesque figure, in fact of fibergass over papier-mâché, once stood tall in Alma AR, but has apparently wandered off, to be superseded by a harder, even more massive, Prince Popeye (invigorated by green iron but actually composed of bronze), the new lord of the Ozark Empire of Chenopodia.

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Muscle Milk

November 21, 2019

(Yes, much about sexual meanings of this expression, so there will be much about men’s bodies and bodily fluids and man-man sexual practices, so not advisable for children or the sexually modest.)

Muscle Milk. A creamy sports protein supplement, with an entirely descriptive N + N compound name: ‘milk-like substance [a creamy drink] for (building) muscle(s)’. But as something of an enthusiast of both male genitals and semen, I immediately saw a sexual reading, ‘milk-like substance [semen] from a (metaphorical) muscle [a penis]’. Salacious smiles ensued.

I doubt that a sexual reading occurred to the makers of Muscle Milk, but then they didn’t reckon with people like me. (And in their defense, I should say that though the sexual senses of muscle and milk are both attested, the combination muscle milk seems to have been used only in the name of their product and not to be attested in a sexual semse.)

As a bonus, most of their original flavors are crèmes.

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A regular festival of ambiguity

November 20, 2019

(Later in this posting there are a couple of raunchy men’s underwear ads, and some cautiously worded references to men’s bodies and mansex, so some readers might want to exercise caution.)

Ruthie and Joe in the One Big Happy from 10/9:

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Three senses of (ir)regular in just four panels. All traceable ultimately to the Latin noun regula ‘rule’, with rule understood as in NOAD:

noun rule: 1 [a] one of a set of explicit or understood regulations or principles governing conduct within a particular activity or sphere: the rules of the game were understood. [b] a principle that operates within a particular sphere of knowledge, describing or prescribing what is possible or allowable: the rules of grammar. …

The range of senses of regular is impressively large, and illustrates a whole variety of mechanisms of semantic change; the three senses above are a microcosm of this greater world.

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The better body butter, with Whipped Shea Butter

October 15, 2019

Now seen on tv, commercials for Gold Bond creams. In particular, this remarkable item:

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Radiance Renewal Whipped Shea Butter. Body Cream: 8 oz. Buttery smooth, ultra-rich hydration moisturizes skin for 24 hours.

Have you ever wished you could have all the benefits of a raw Shea Butter, but with a smooth, easy application? Meet GOLD BOND® Radiance Renewal Whipped Shea Butter.

Oh, honey, I have yearned for raw Shea Butter, but always hoped it could somehow be whipped into smoothness, for I am a sensitive fellow. And I’ve long mused about the fabulous Irishman Shea who gave his name to this remarkable ultra-rich hydrating substance.

Imagine my astonishment when I discovered that Shea was not Irish at all but West African, and that he was a nut-bearing tree. Also that Shea Butter, like Coconut Oil, provides not only moisturization, but also nourishment. Shea is, in a word, eminently edible.

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Penguin aerodynamics

October 6, 2019

(Not much linguistics, but there are penguins and mammoths.)

A late birthday present on Friday, wrapped in rainbow tissue paper:


(#1) From the Sock It To Me company in Portland OR: “Penguin Taking Flight” crew socks (artist: Tara Gildow)

The back story from the company:

Blue men’s crew socks featuring a steampunk penguin wearing headgear and a jet pack launching upwards

Tired of being mocked by other flying birds, this flightless penguin is taking matters into her own hands…err wings. Steamed she couldn’t fly, she built herself a marvelous flying contraption and finally took flight. Wear these magnificent penguin socks when you feel a little too earthbound and need to take things to the next level.

Just strap it on and take off.

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Cavemen of higher education

September 3, 2019

Today’s Wayno/Piraro Bizarro collabo:


(#1) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 5 in this strip — see this Page. The HBD — happy birthday — note is presumably for one of Piraro’s two K-named daughters.)

A twist on the caveman cartoon meme, with a Neanderthal pursuing a higher education. And attempting to get college credit for his life experiences.

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News for penguins: cache and carry

August 24, 2019

From correspondent RJP, a link to a story on the My Modern Met site, “Adorable Egg Holder Transforms Your Produce into a Pack of Penguins” by Sara Barnes on 8/23/19:


(#1) Egguins: portmanteau in name, portmanteau in function

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Annals of social learning

August 8, 2019

Two recent One Big Happy strips about the cartoon’s kids in the process of acquiring — internalizing, rehearsing, and displaying — two sociocultural complexes of beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors.

Ruthie is learning to fit into modern American commercial culture, where she is urged to judge products not on their intrinsic qualities (such as the taste and nutritional values of breakfast cereals) but on their symbolic associations as pushed in their marketing (cartoon characters as the representatives of breakfast cereals in commercials).

Meanwhile, Joe is learning normative masculinity in modern America, absorbing the lesson that successful manhood requires the stringent rejection of everything feminine — both anything associated with girls and also anything associated with the conventional role of the mother as taming boys, civilizing them.

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Never go out without a speech balloon

August 2, 2019

That’s today’s advice from Zippy:

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Zippy is a long-time fan of speech balloons, their history, their uses, their attractions. In fact, speech balloons are a fairly frequent explicit theme in cartoons — cartoons about cartooning.

And then there’s the theme of things you shouldn’t go out without — from   a certain amount of cash or your identity papers, to makeup or condoms, to American Express products or (if you’re hitchhiking in space) a towel.

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On the dog food watch

May 29, 2019

The 5/27 Wayno-Piraro Bizarro strip, set in the Land of Dogs:


(#1) (If you wonder about the secret symbol in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there’s just one in this strip — see this Page.)

A dog food with Quibbles in its name is of course not going to agree with you, in one sense of agree with. So you can understand the cartoon, and see that the pun on agree with in it makes it amusing — and still miss the extra joke that Wayno and Piraro threw in for you.

The cartoon would have been funny if the dog food had been named just Quibbles. But Quibbles and Fits is a lot funnier, because it’s another pun, on the name of the (actual) dog food Kibbles and Bits. But of course you have to know about this particular commercial product to get that joke.

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