Archive for the ‘Lexicography’ Category

The profane domain

May 7, 2018

… and pornlinguistics.

Recently on Facebook, from Dan Everett and then Rob Pensalfini, calls for research in what I’ll call the profane domain of linguistics:

Dan: How about a pop-up book on the interaction of pornography and linguistic relativity?

Rob: It’s about time for a revival of McCawley’s field of pornolinguistics (and scatolinguistics, while we’re at it).

Dan is a frequent presence on this blog; Rob is new (and I’ll introduce him below). Rob asks about the profane domain, under the name “pornolinguistics and scatolinguistics” (a label I seem to have been responsible for, in 1967, in a moment of careless playfulness). Dan asks about linguistic aspects of pornography (I’ll put pop-up books — they already exist — and linguistic relativity aside in this posting), a topic several commenters thought must be barren, though I’ve found quite a lot to say about it on this blog.

So: on the profane domain, other names for it, and resources on this blog about it. And then on pornography in a similar vein.

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jam

May 4, 2018

The readings for today: from the Old Texts, Lewis Carroll; and two from the New Texts, P.G. Wodehouse and Rihanna.

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The grandeur of Versailles commodes

March 23, 2018

In the print edition of yesterday’s NYT, an ad on p. A5 offers this astonishing piece of furniture:

Grandeur of Versailles

On the site of M.S. Rau Antiques – Fine Art – Jewelry, 630 Royal St., New Orleans LA, this description:

This monumental Boulle marquetry commode was crafted by Robert Blake (ca. 1820). Modeled after those made by Boulle for King Louis XIV. The entire ebony commode is covered in Boulle marquetry and doré bronze. A similar pair of commodes also marked [= signed] by Blake are part of the famed Frick Collection. Item No. 30-6334 : $398,500

My first interest here is lexicographic, having to do with the item commode (and its semantic development). Then on to marquetry, Boulle, and Blake.

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Words on the big outside place

November 18, 2017

At noon on Friday of last week (the 10th), this event at Santa Clara University, an Environmental Studies & Sciences seminar:

Faculty will attempt to describe their research using only the 1,000 most commonly used words in English. Should be fun!

(Each talk about 5 minutes long.)

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Word by Word

April 30, 2017

The title of a new book by Kory Stamper, subtitled The Secret Life of Dictionaties:

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About how dictionaries are made and the people who make them, and about English words.

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Alarming annals of cinematic lexicography

August 4, 2016

Lexicographers’ eyes are rolling at the prospect of a movie about the Oxford English Dictionary with Mel Gibson in the role of the dictionary’s editor and Sean Penn as an early contributor to the project. The story from Rolling Stone yesterday, “Mel Gibson, Sean Penn Slated to Star in ‘The Professor and the Madman’: Oxford English Dictionary creation story heads to the big screen”:

Mel Gibson and Sean Penn may act together for the first time in a forthcoming adaptation of The Professor and the Madman, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The book, written by Simon Winchester, tells the origin story of the Oxford English Dictionary. Gibson is a longtime fan of Winchester’s tale: he acquired the rights to the bestseller in 1998, the same year it was first published in the U.K.

Gibson is slated to portray Professor James Murray, who oversaw the creation of the O.E.D. starting in 1857. The Hollywood Reporter suggests that Penn is “in negotiations” to appear opposite Gibson in the role of Dr. W. C. Minor, an important early contributor to the dictionary. Minor has a colorful backstory: a former surgeon in the U.S. army, he was locked up in an insane asylum during the period when he furnished Murray with more than 10,000 dictionary entries.

The screenplay for The Professor and the Madman was written by Farhad Safinia, who will also direct the film. Safinia has worked with Gibson before: the two co-wrote Apocalypto, which hit screens in 2006.

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Fireworks, hot dogs, and, yes, gun sales

July 4, 2016

Three phallic things for (U.S.) Independence Day, the Fourth of July, today: fireworks, one of the classic audio-visual symbols of sexual climax; hot dogs (so common that there’s a whole Page on this blog on wurstlich phallicity); and guns, those icons of American independence and power. In order, from Jack Handey humor in the most recent New Yorker (July 4th, cover by Barry Blitt showing John Cleese doing a Brexit Silly Walk off the edge of a cliff); an assessment of hot dog brands by bon appétit magazine writers; and a Fourth of July gun sale from Cabela’s, featuring a  semiautomatic rifle similar to the one used in the Orlando Pulse massacre.

Unlike a panda, which famously eats, shoots, and leaves, a Real American eats, shoots, and gets off.

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Morning spunk: same word, different word

May 27, 2016

In a sense, a re-play of an earlier posting, “spunk” of 3/16/11, which was about spunk ‘spirit, mettle, courage, pluck’ vs. spunk ‘semen, seminal fluid’. Now spunk appeared as a morning name for me a few days ago, along with the ‘pluck’ context of the interview between Mary Richards (played by Mary Tyler Moore) and Lou Grant (played by Ed Asner) in the first episode of the Mary Tyler Moore Show: Grant: “You’ve got spunk … I hate spunk.”

That led me to NOAD2, where I found a single noun entry with three subentries:

1 informal courage and determination.
2 tinder; touchwood.
3 Brit. vulgar slang semen.

(Note: seminal spunk might be more common in BrE than AmE, but it is scarcely unknown in AmE, as a search will readily confirm.)

Speaking informally, this dictionary presents these three as a single word with three different uses (all of which ae available in my speech), while I would have thought these were three different words which just happened to be identical in spelling and pronunciation. What could possibly unite them?

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Amber 2

September 21, 2015

Following up on my posting on succinic acid (which led to some discussion of the substance amber), two amber items: a musical interlude, and material about senses of the noun amber.

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Stanford news: Jane Shaw and Sarah Ogilvie

January 22, 2015

From the January/February issue of Stanford magazine, “Breaking Holy Ground: New dean and professor Jane Shaw continues her career of firsts in a field steeped in history and tradition” by Sam Scott:

A historian of modern Christianity, Shaw, 51, arrives at Stanford as both dean and religious studies professor. Previously, she spent 16 years at Oxford, followed by four years as dean of San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral. Her partner, lexicographer and linguist Sarah Ogilvie, also will teach at Stanford.

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(Photo by Glenn Matsumura.)

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