Archive for the ‘Languages’ Category

The Russian sardines are coming!

November 6, 2019

Today’s Wayno/Piraro Bizarro collabo goes (sort of) bilingual:


(#1) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 3 in this strip — see this Page.)

The Cyrillic label hints at сардинкы (transliteration in Latin letters: sardinky/i) ‘little sardines’, with a hard sign Ъ added to allow an allusion to one of those odd symbols. Meanwhile, the title tsardines is a portmanteau, of tsar and sardines, referring to the five tsars of Russia packed like sardines into the tin.

(Yes, full appreciation of the cartoon requires assembling a fair amount of knowledge of several kinds, starting with sardines and their customary packaging.)

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Der Migros-Sprecher Gabriel Zwicky

October 9, 2019

In the Swiss German-language daily Blick, a 10/6 story by Marc Iseli, “Neues Gastro-Konzept kommt nach Zürich: Migros bringt den Metzger zum Anfassen” (‘A new gastronomic concept comes to Zürich: Migros makes the butcher accessible’), about a new program — some combination of Retail, Gastronomie und Event — that is somehow supposed to bring the consumer closer to the producers of food (the butcher, the baker, the fisherman, the farmer), at least in the giant supermarket by the main railway station in Zürich:


(#1) From the butcher’s hands to yours, in the new “Meet Food” (yes, with a name borrowed from English) program (note: I didn’t choose this photo; Blick did; I will, however, inventory it in my files under “Phallicity: The Wurst”, where it deserves some sort of vividness trophy)

The story is about this still not fully defined program, but its primary interest for me is that it comes from der Migros-Sprecher (‘the Migros spokesperson’) Gabriel Zwicky, who gets his name in the news quite a lot, Migros being a very big thing in Switzerland. Zwickys, we are everywhere.

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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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The Dickson Poon School of Law

July 24, 2019

(As you might guess from the title, this posting treats several English expressions of varying degrees of offensiveness, so some readers might want to avoid it.)

A message from Gadi Niram a month ago:

I can’t get past the name of this school: https://www.kcl.ac.uk/law
The Dickson Poon School of Law in the University of London

— and wondering if poon doesn’t have the meaning in BrE that it does in AmE. (And then there’s the dick in Dickson.)

Briefly, the answer is: no, the lexical item poon ‘vagina, pussy’ is largely unknown in BrE. But it is an estimable Chinese name, especially in Hong Kong. If they had known about the crude offensiveness of poon in AmE, Dickson Poon’s family might have chosen another variant of their name in English, say Pan. Or maybe not; they might have decided that it’s their family’s English name and they’re proud of it. (I will compare it to the Hindi surname often spelling Dikshit in English.)

Then there’s the question of why the University of London has anything named after Dickson Poon. That’s where I’ll start.

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Avocado Chronicles: 3 the chemical formula

July 14, 2019

Selling avocados in Santo Domingo DR:

(#1)

H2O KT is a play on Sp. aguacate ‘avocado’, treating it as:

the chemical formula H2O for agua ‘water’ + ca, the letter K /ka/, + te, the letter T /te/

that is, as la formula química del aguacate ‘the chemical formula for the avocado’. The joke isn’t quite perfect: K is indeed a symbol for a chemical element, potassium, but there’s no element T (though there is Te, the metalloid tellurium). (There is a compound potassium telluride, K2Te, but I don’t know how it interacts with water.)

The joke will lead us to the demotivational industry (with a penguin interlude); to snark and Mad magazine; to color blindness; to egg and avocado dishes; and to a sexually suggestive cartoon and its gender ideology.

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Count of Denmark

July 8, 2019

The One Big Happy cartoon I posted about this morning, in “Nudie Tales”, had Ruthie mishearing new details as nudie tales. That reminded Gadi Niram of this Mexican cartoon (from the webcomic La ViñetaThe Vignette‘), turning on a similar mishearing:


(#1) con D de Dinamarca ‘with the D /de/ of Dinamarca (Denmark), with D as in Denmark’ misheard as Conde de Dinamarca ‘Count of Denmark’ (Denmark does have a number of counts): “Oh, sorry, I didn’t recognize you, Tavid, Count of Denmark”

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The Chinese diner

June 5, 2019

Today’s Zippy takes us to a bit of now-vanished Camden NJ, the Elgin Diner Restaurant, and, next to it, a fantasy Chinese diner, an amalgam of two items of demotic culinary Americana: the classic diner (an Art Deco railcar where people meet to eat plain, familiar food); and the little Chinese (that is, American-Cantonese) restaurant:

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This will take us on the road to Ardmore PA, Wheeling WV, and Idaho Falls ID. For the trip, choose a diner classic — tuna melt, patty melt, club sandwich, meatloaf, macncheese — from column A; and a Chinese-restaurant classic — hot and sour soup, chow mein, garlic eggplant, General Tso’s chicken, sweet and sour pork — from column B. And then wok this way.

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Why is he calling her his thesaurus?

May 28, 2019

Today’s morning name was the Italian phrase il mio tesoro, and there’s no mystery where it came from: on my overnight iTunes, the 1959 Carlo Maria Guilini recording of Don Giovanni had reached Luigi Alva singing “Il Mio Tesoro” just as I woke. What was odd was that my still sleep-addled brain was puzzling over why Don Ottavio was calling Donna Anna his thesaurus.

Attribute it to an overactive mental-association apparatus connecting It. il tesoro ‘treasure’ (but also ‘darling, honey, dear’) to Engl. thesaurus referring to a specialized type of dictionary (derived ultimately from Greek). In this case, one reproducing a historical connection between It. tesoro ‘darling’ and It. tesoreria ‘thesaurus’, which are, etymologically, second cousins, more or less.

After this, on to the aria, with performances by Alva, Araiza, and Domingo.

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Parade of Fangs, Eye of the Pumpkin

May 12, 2019

I’ll get to the fangs and the pumpkin eventually, but first a taxonomic puzzle in botany and two botanical puzzles in (Mexican) Spanish, triggered by this Pinterest photo from a while back:


(#1) [as captioned by its (Mexican) poster] Lirio plantasonya

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Ariperro

May 5, 2019

The punchline to a wonderful two-line bilingual joke, realized in this cartoon:

(#1)

First, some analysis of the Japanese-Spanish joke. Then some reflections on its appearance, all over the net, in both English-speaking and Spanish-speaking contexts, without attribution to an artist or identification of a source. And, finally, a likely account of its origin, in the Zona Dorado district of Mazatlán, Sinaloa, Mexico.

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