Archive for the ‘Language play’ Category

The poetry corner

January 19, 2019

Into the lull between Thesaurus Day (the 18th) and Penguin Awareness Day (the 20th), I thrust two bits of poetry taking off from images on Facebook: Make Big Money (brought to me by Kyle Wohlmut) and The Long Room, Trinity College, Dublin (brought to me by Joelle Stepien Bailard):

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Playful anaphoric islanding

January 18, 2019

Adrienne Shapiro on Facebook on the 14th, reporting on a day trip from Seattle with Kit Transue:

Cape Disappointment did not [understood: disappoint].

An instance of the anaphoric construction VPE (Verb Phrase Ellipsis) in which the antecedent for the ellipted material is not an actual expression in the preceding text, but instead is merely evoked by a word-part in this text, the disappoint inside the nominalization disappointment. The configuration requires some processing work on the part of a reader (or hearer) — it presents a kind of puzzle for you to solve — so it’s jokey, likely to elicit a smile from you, in admiration of Adrienne’s condensed cleverness.

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The family of Word Inclusion snowclones

December 27, 2018

Keep X In AXB, Put X (Back) In(to) AXB, Take X Out of AXB

(where X is a word included in a larger word AXB — included in pronunciation (exactly or approximately) or spelling or both)

I’ll start with one of the most complicated examples, the seasonally apropos slogan with KEEP:


(#1) An outdoor vinyl banner from ChurchSupplier.com

then go on to a seasonal example with TAKE, and end with the great mass of examples, with PUT.

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Diminished with age

December 27, 2018

A Mike Shiells cartoon, passed on on Facebook by Karen Chung, for its entertainment value as a burst of puns:

But what caught my eye in this cartoon of a pencil funeral was the fact that the deceased had been so diminished with age, worn down to a nub by use. I’m being worn down myself. For decades, I was 5′10″, but in recent years I’ve lost over 3 inches in height, a tangible decline: I can no longer reach things on top shelves, in stores and in my own home. I was prepared for some of the physical ravages of age, but nobody told me about this one.

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Santa Paronomasia

December 25, 2018

Santa Paronomasia, the patron saint of punning, whose most recent appearance in these precincts was on the 22nd, in a posting about the Christmas shark movie — groan — Santa Jaws. Time for a round of Santa Claus puns.

(Some sexual joking.)

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For the season: from fish to moose, penguin intervention

December 22, 2018

First, season’s greetings from the person responsible for “Hippo Birdie Two Ewe(s)!”. Then, a duplicitous stop-motion animation penguin bearing gifts.

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Penguins and packages

December 17, 2018

Two Xmas cards from Amanda Walker, from 2016 (Advent penguins) and 2017 (Santa grabbing his package). (Warning about the second: there will be images of crotch-grabbing and crude plays on the noun package.)

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Prosthetics on an anaphoric island

December 12, 2018

I posted yesterday on anaphoric islands — “Smoke from a island”, here — and then of course immediately came across a wonderful example, in a 12/1 Economist article on prosthetic limbs, where the anaphor is a bit of conspicuous language play. (The Economist is strongly inclined to language play in its heads and lead paragraphs.)

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Song of the season

December 12, 2018

It’s time for that moving, rousing carol that makes this time of the year so special. I refer of course to the great seasonal song of Okefenokee County, the Pogolicious, Kellytastic “Deck us all with Boston Charlie”:

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Wok it to the golden Lab for analysis, har-de-har-har

December 3, 2018

3 x 3: three cartoons of linguistic interest for the 3rd of December: a Dave Blazek Loose Parts with merged phonemes; a Wayno/Piraro Bizarro with an ambiguity; and a Zits with an onomatopoeia.

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