Archive for the ‘Languages’ Category

Lilyturf, bronze pin heads, and ungrammatical yucca

October 15, 2017

All on a recent trip to Stanford Shopping Center, where I hadn’t been for several years. After massive reconstruction, it’s even more upscale than before, with a huge range of very high-end stores with designer facades and interiors (the older buildings, like Macy’s, now look like commercial architecture from a previous age), plus, in the mall’s ad copy, “breathtaking gardens, sculptures and fountains” and places to sit everywhere — the last important to me as I cope with shortness of breath under exertion. The effect is of world-class shopping streets located in the middle of extraordinary public parks (though it’s all very much private property).

A quick general tour, then three specific items: masses of lirope, or lilyturf, an amiable and modest plant, in the midst of extravagantly showy plantings; whimsical “pin head” bronze sculptures by Albert Guibara; and the oddly named fusion-Cantonese restaurant Yucca de Lac (with plenty of yuccas and a lot of dim sum, but, here in Palo Alto, no lake; lakelessness is not, however, the real problem with the name).

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Livin’ La Vida Multilingüe

October 3, 2017

Yes, Ricky Martin is the hook for this posting. Aside from the fact that I’m a big RM fan, this is not at all a forced connection, as you’ll see. For the moment, this:

  (#1) See also #1 in this posting on RM, showing him in a performance of the song.

Back in June, I posted (here) about the retirement party for Stanford’s Eve Clark, prominently mentioning Herb Clark’s comments about the 2014 Festschrift for Eve edited by

Inbal Arnon, Marisa Casillas, Chigusa Kurumada, Bruno Estigarribia

There I said, of Eve and Herb, that

each of them read and critiqued almost everything the other wrote, and they talked about their research essentially on a daily basis. As Herb remarked yesterday, this made it incredibly difficult for him to write his contribution to the Festschrift … without tipping Eve off to the project; complex ruses were resorted to.

Herb also reflected on the diversity of the editors’ names, each from a different language — Bruno’s, from Basque, being the most exotic of the four. They are all multilingual (and multicultural), Bruno pretty spectacularly so. And, being linguists, they all know at least a bit about a huge number of languages (and the cultures and societies those languages are part of).

Such experiences, I think, incline linguists to a certain liberality of spirit: openness to new ideas, appreciation of social, cultural, and individual variety, and resistance to prejudice. Characteristics to be seen in Eve and all four of the editors. And, arrived at by a somewhat different route, in Ricky Martin.

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Cat on a silken thread

September 12, 2017

My Swiss friend Guido Seiler (now professing linguistics in the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München) just sent me the latest news from the Zwicky thread company, a firm I’ve posted about several times on this blog, partly because it’s a Zwicky company and partly because of this famous 1950 ad poster by Donald Brun:

(#1)

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The regional languages of France

September 10, 2017

Passed on by Norma Mendoza-Denton, this beautiful map of the regional languages of France, with a tool for playing sound files for each of them:

On the Positivr site, “La France a enfin son atlas sonore des langues régionales: En un seul clic, cette carte interactive permet de faire le tour de France des langues régionales. Du bonheur pour les oreilles.” by Axel Leclercq on 7/21/17.

The posting ends with a paean to the value of regional languages in France — with a treatment of (for example) Picard and Norman in the north and Gascon and Provençal in the south as languages in their own right and not merely local deviations from correct French; and also the recognition of the Germanic languages Flemish, Alsatian, and Franconian as regional languages on a par with, say, Breton and Basque:

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Slangy Spanish hot dogs

August 1, 2017

In a Pinterest mailing on the 25th, a board entitled Cachorros — a word unfamiliar to me — that turned out to be yet another assemblage of hot dog recipes (a topic that comes up on this blog frequently, because it combines food and phallicity).

The Spanish word cachorro means ‘puppy’ (also usable for the young of some other species, even, for some speakers, children — but the basic use is for young dogs), but as far as I can tell, it has no widespread currency as culinary slang.
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Capitulum in corpore magno

August 1, 2017

(Men’s underwear and bodies, taking off from a recent Daily Jocks ad for the Marcuse company. With a caption of mine. Somewhat racy, but not crude. And there will be cartoons.)

(#1)

Capitulum in corpore magno

A hard man —
An erection lasting more than four hours –
But fair —
Requires immediate medical attention –
A pinhead with
Broad shoulders

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Christian Sauce

July 29, 2017

As on this advertisement, recently noticed in New Orleans by John Dorrance, who posted it in Facebook with only the comment “Seriously?”:

(#1) Available at the French Market, next to the Voodoo Sauce?

Well, yes, seriously. It’s a Hispanic man’s name Christian Sauce /krístian sáwse/, not an English compound noun Christian sauce, though commenters on John’s page (including the one who provided the basis for the caption of #1) preferred to have sport with the English compound noun, which affords a number of entertaining understandings.

Then there’s Christian Sauce, un abogado bilingüe practicing in Gretna LA, especially providing services to the Hispanic community (though not restricted to that). Of some linguistic interest with regard to both parts of his name.

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From Tex-Mex to naked rugby

July 25, 2017

Yesterday’s morning name was the Mexican Spanish nickname Chuy (for Jesus). I’m pretty sure it got into my head from a friend who recently ate at a Chuy’s restaurant in Texas, so I’ll start with that.

But the real topic is Mexican Spanish nicknames: Chuy or Chucho for Jesus, Pepe for JoséChe for Ernesto, and Pancho or Paco for Francisco, in particular (with a note on the linguist Viola Waterhouse, who was a student of such things). That will take me to Pepe Romero, Che Guevara, Pancho Villa, the linguist Paco Ordóñez, Paco Rabanne (the man and the fragrances), and from there to Nick Youngquest in the buff, which will supply a moment of gay interest.

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Annals of spiciness

June 30, 2017

On my posting on the 27th, “Scalarity on the menu”, about a Korean restaurant in Berlin offering food with sauces that were: not spicy, medium spicy, German spicy, Korean spicy — this comment on Facebook from Antonia Clicquot:

Reminds me of the menu of an Indian restaurant in Erlangen [in Bavaria, not far from Nuremberg] – they do all their meals germanisch, indogermanisch and indisch scharf.

The adjective indogermanisch leaps out to a linguist’s eye, because for us it picks out not a kind of food but a kind of language, namely Indo-European.

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Brainless Tales, with more news for penises

May 20, 2017

#4 in my “Squid Pro Quo” posting is from Marcus Connor’s Brainless Tales, a new webcomic for me, but one largely devoted to language play. And immediately I came across this cartoon, with a portmanteau noun denoting a hybrid, doubly phallic, foodstuff:

(#1)

baniener = banana + wiener, denoting a decidedly louche anthromorphized banana-wiener. Hey, baby, wanna dance?

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