Archive for the ‘Languages’ Category

It’s a metaphor, son!

January 21, 2020

On Facebook recently, this supermarket snap, presumably from a store in Quebec, with a notable offering highlighted:


(#1) Five parts to the labeling: the name of the product in French (ailes de lapin); the name of the company (Canabec, a Quebec distributor of game — gibiers — and exotic meats; cf. elsewhere Plaisirs Gastronomiques, a Quebec company offering gourmet food, and Gaspésien, another Quebec fine food company); the name of the product in English (rabbit wings); the weight (in grams); and the price (in C$ / CA$ / CAD)

Much FB merriment over ailes de lapin ‘rabbit wings’, to which I responded:

Um, these are rabbit legs, right? Metaphorical? They resemble chicken wings and can be cooked in all the same ways. (Chinese rabbit wings are yummy.) M. Lapin: “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! for then I would fly away, and be at rest.” (Psalm 55) — later adding: “Oh, that I had wings like a rabbit! for then I would bound away, and be at rest.”

It’s a metaphor, son! A metaphor! Apparently one that is dead in Quebec, and so unremarkable in Quebecois — cf. Fr chauve-souris ‘bat’ (lit. ‘bald mouse’), Engl head of lettuce (where are its eyes and mouth?), and other dead metaphors that become entertaining when you attempt to breathe life back into them.

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Boy oh Boyu!

January 9, 2020

David Bowie seems to have a considerable following in Russia, to judge from the Pinterest materials about him, for instance this album:


(#1) Дэвид Боуи: David Bowie in Cyrillic transiteration

Боуи gets the [wi] of Bowie just right, but to Latin-alphabet-oriented eyes that уи looks like YU [ju], so Боуи looks like Boyu: Boy oh Boyu!

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Interpretive services

January 5, 2020

Via the STRS (State Teachers Retirement System) Ohio health care program, a message from the Express Scripts prescription company about preferred pharmacies in my area, with several pages of information about the Express Scripts “Multi-language Interpreter Services”, offering translations of their literature into any of 22 languages. I was startled to see, in the middle of this list, Pennsylvania Dutch / Deitsch:

Mir hen free Iwwersetzer Services um die Frooge zu andwatte, die du vielleicht iwwer dei Gsundheit odder Drug Blan hoscht. …

And then I wondered about the selection of languages, which strikes me as very odd. Express Scripts presumably knows who it’s serving — in particular, the communities in its customer base that use languages other than English —  but still I wonder.

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All I want for XXXmas

December 17, 2019

… is you in your homowear. I just want you for my own / More than you could ever know.

From Daily Jocks ads of the season: Boy offers himself, in his Cellblock 13 Covert jock and harness, to serve his Master; and SeksiMatti lowers his Helsinki Athletica shorts to make his jockstrap-framed pygian orbs available for use.

(A dip into gay male fetish-land, with bdsm, and puppy play as well; and then into the sexual display of the male body, especially the buttocks — so not for kids or the sexually modest, though there will be an entirely innocent digression into the self-deprecating Finnish cartoon character Matti.)

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A syncretic religious holiday

December 8, 2019

Recently posted on Facebook, this melding of the traditions of Judaism with the traditions of Jedi-ism for the holiday season, in French:


(#1) ‘May the light be with you’: the Jedi Master Yoda wields a lightsword menorah for Hanukkah (Fr. Hanoucca) — Happy Hanukkah! (Joyeuse fête de Hanoucca!)

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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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