Archive for the ‘Nonsense’ Category

Morning name: mock-Swedish nonsense

March 15, 2016

A recent morning name, a ghost from my childhood: a novelty song first recorded in 1941. From Wikipedia:

“The Hut-Sut Song (a Swedish Serenade)” is a novelty song from the 1940s with nonsense lyrics. The song was written in 1941 by Leo V. Killion, Ted McMichael and Jack Owens. The first and most popular recording was by Horace Heidt and His Musical Knights.

The lyrics of the chorus are supposed to be a garbled rendition of a Swedish folk song. The chorus goes in part: Hut-Sut Rawlson on the rillerah and a brawla, brawla sooit.

The song then purports to define some of the words, supposedly Swedish: “Rawlson” being a Swedish town, “rillerah” being a stream, “brawla” being the boy and girl, “hut-sut” being their dream and “sooit” being the schoolteacher.

You can listen to the 1941 Horace Heidt recording here.

Many other recordings were made over the years.


Two Dilberts

December 21, 2015

From the 8th, featuring Alice:


and from the 20th, featuring Wally and the pointy-haired boss:



Claude Funston thought …

June 28, 2015

Today’s Zippy, with a parody of (part of) Lewis Carroll’s “The Walrus and the Carpenter”, from the (mostly political) dreaming mind of Claude Funston:

The parody reproduces the recurring /ɪŋz/ rhyme of the original, once as /ɪŋz/ (the things of the original), three times as /ɪŋ/.


More na na na

April 3, 2015

An addition to my “na na na” posting, with an xkcd cartoon compressing a collection of “na” songs into a chart: the song “Get a Job” and the name Sha Na Na for the rock group that took its name from the song. Nonsense syllables rule!



January 15, 2015

Following my posting on perilla and phonologically similar words, I was playing with Camilla Perilla and sashimi and that’s my spicy duchess hanging on the wall scooby dooby, and I caught an echo of

Daisy and Lily,
Lazy and silly,
Walk by the shore of the wan grassy sea

The “Valse” from Façade, which I seem not to have posted about before.


Pirate chickens

April 25, 2014

A Savage Chickens from 2008, reproduced in the Stanford Linguistic newsletter the Sesquipedalian today:


yo-heave-ho, bow-wow, pooh-pooh?

Talk Like a Pirate Day isn’t until September 19th, but pirate language is always in style.

Zippy nonsense

February 7, 2014

Today’s Zippy, which incorporates the comic-within-the-comic, Fletcher and Tanya:

F&T is a recurrent feature in Zippy. It’s a masterpiece of (Gricean) irrelevance, in which the conversational partners flagrantly talk past one another. What each of them says is grammatical English, though often peculiar in content. But the exchanges don’t cohere at all.


non sequitur

October 18, 2013

Today’s Zippy:


The strip starts with the opposed figures Kool-Aid Man and Speedy Alka-Seltzer and then rambles incoherently through a giant pile of cultural references.


The Pogo files

July 21, 2012

One cartoonist who reveled in language but has been largely neglected in my postings on linguistics in the comics is Walt Kelly, the creator of Pogo. The problem is that good examples of Pogo material are hard to find on the net. But here are a few high points: the quote “We have met the enemy and he is us”; notes on the Okefenokee swamp dialect in Pogo; and the inspired nonsense of Kelly’s song parodies.


Edward Lear at 200

May 13, 2012

Yesterday was Edward Lear’s 200th birthday, certainly a day to celebrate. The barest facts, from Wikipedia:

Edward Lear (12 May 1812 – 29 January 1888) was a British artist, illustrator, author, and poet, renowned today primarily for his literary nonsense, in poetry and prose, and especially his limericks, a form that he popularised.

On limericks, see here.

And then, yesterday in the NYT, an appreciation by Verlyn Klinkenborg: