Archive for the ‘Language play’ Category

Pedaltecture

August 18, 2019

Saturday’s Zippy takes us to southeastern Pennsylvania, the land of my childhood:

(#1)

Not in escrow, but in Hellam Township, in York County PA. Specifically, in the Haines Shoe House. Which is a house in the form of a shoe (rather than a shop that sells shoes, or a storage place for shoes, or …).

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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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“as cleverer than people as people are than plants”

August 4, 2019

From The Economist of July 27th. Yes, it’s grammatical, but it’s fiercely hard to parse — you might feel the need to get out pencil and paper to graph the thing — and it’s also a big show-stopper flourish: stop reading the news to admire how clever we are!

In this case, the magazine has committed a nested clausal comparative (NCC), somewhat reminiscent of nested relative clauses (also known in the syntactic literature as self-embedded relative clauses) like those in the NP with head the rat modified by the relative clause that the cat that the dog worried ate:

[ the rat ]-i

… [ that [ the cat ]-j [ that [ the dog ] worried ___-j ] ate ___-i ]

(where an underline indicates a missing (“extracted”) constituent, and the indices mark coreferential constituents). Both nested relatives and NCCs require the hearer to interrupt the processing of one clause to process another clause of similar form.

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Briefly noted: the disavowal drill

August 4, 2019

In today’s NYT Magazine (in print), a Jason Parham comment “This is not a drill”, on a 7/21 (in print) piece by Claudia Rankine, the comment turned into a thumbnail illustration by Giacomo Gambineri:

The Magrittean disavowal Ceci n’est pas une perceuse ‘This is not a drill’ (referring to une perceuse, a device for making — piercing — holes in things), but playing on the English catchphrase This is not a drill, conveying  ‘This is the real thing, this is serious’.

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Never go out without a speech balloon

August 2, 2019

That’s today’s advice from Zippy:

(#1)

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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The opossum joke

July 30, 2019

(I posted a version of this under the heading “The opossum” on July 30th, but by a WordPress glitch the link to that posting was later re-directed to the next posting in line, “Ralph at the Port Authority” (here), so that my earlier posting disappeared completely. I lamented this loss on Facebook, and eventually archivist and quote investigator Garson O’Toole magicked up a Google Cache version of the text for me. Thanks to Garson, here’s a reconstituted version.)

(Totally baffled addendum. WordPress has published this revised posting with the date 7/30, though it was actually posted on 8/1.)

A very sweet One Big Happy from 6/30: Ruthie and her grandfather:

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A granddad joke — well, actually, two of them in sequence, the first sledgehammer simple (a classic dad joke), the second delightfully subtle (a meta-joke in which the audience response becomes a crucial part of the joke).

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Conventional and creative metaphors

July 24, 2019

In a recent comics feed, the 6/27 One Big Happy, with an exchange between Grandma Rose and the grotesquely smiling Avis

(#1)

In panel 2, the baggage of emotional baggage is a conventional metaphor, one no longer requiring the hearer to work out the effect of the figure and so now listed in dictionaries. But then Rose immediately brings it back from dormancy to life in a long riff of creative metaphor (in panels 2-4), composed on the spot and calling up a complex and vivid scene for the hearer.

We use the same term, metaphor, for both phenomena, and the mechanism is the same in both — but one is a historical phenomenon (whose figural character is usually out of the consciousness of speaker and hearer), while the other is a phenomenon of discourse production and comprehension in real time.

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Oh that’s good

July 22, 2019

Following on my 7/7 posting “GN/BN”, about the Good News Bad News joke routine, which the hounds of ADS-L traced back to the early 19th century (at least). Other commenters offered formuations of the idea that there’s a good side and a bad side to everything, the bad comes withthe good, and lots of other things that, however interesting, are not instances of the joke formula (in any of its variants). But then on 7/16, Bill Mullins posted about an entirely different joke formula hinging on the opposition of good and bad.

Bill wrote:

Are you familiar with Archie Campbell’s “That’s Good/That’s Bad” routines? He used to do them on Hee Haw.

And we’re off!

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I do like a bit of cowboy butter to my meat

July 17, 2019

The original spur was this Pinterest item:


(#1) [ cowboy butter ] [ dipping sauce ]

On the dipping sauce in #1; the cowboy butter that is its basis; the interpretation of cowboy butter and other cowboy X compounds (cowboy casserole, cowboy rub); the combination of cowboys, butter, and meat (each with possible sexual associations); Jackson Hole Cowboy Cream; and cowboy cheese bites.

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Singout at the CA chorale

July 16, 2019

As I arrange for a small Sacred Harp singing at my house in Palo Alto next month, a Bizarro from the past, this 1/10/07 strip:

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Relevant fact: SH singing is famous for being loud and harsh in tone — especially the altos, whose voices are often described as having a “glass-cutting” timbre.

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