Archive for the ‘Linguistics in the comics’ 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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Ruthie plays with Joe

November 3, 2019

A recent — 10/7 — One Big Happy has Ruthie willfully misunderstanding a usage, something she does every so often, sometimes as a joke, usually to annoy her brother Joe:


(#1) Joe asks about /plen/ plane vs. plain, and Ruthie mischievously shifts to a pun on /pléɪn/ playin’.

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Another BYOB

November 3, 2019

Today’s Bizarro, with yet another unpacking of the initialism BYOB:


(#1) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 12 in this strip! — see this Page.)

In the conventional initialism, BYOB stands for ‘bring your own bottle / booze / beer / beverage’, but here it’s ‘bring your OB’, where OB /o bi/ is short for — a clipping of — OB-GYN /o bi ǰi waj ɛn/. From NOAD:

noun ob-gyn: abbreviation [pronounced as an initialism] obstetrics and gynecology.

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Gaysper

November 2, 2019

The logo appeared last spring, but it’s especially appropriate for the Day of the Dead, yesterday:


(#1) Gaysper (as he was quickly dubbed), the gay ghost: a Casperesque wraith in rainbow

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Bears in the woods

November 1, 2019

Today’s Wayno/Piraro wordless Bizarro collabo (titled “Confirmed” by Wayno), on one of the two pop-culturally celebrated activities of bears in the woods (picknicking being the other one):


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

According to this cartoon, bears do indeed, as the idiom has it, shit in the woods, but not indiscriminately. Instead, there are designated defecation sites, alongside those facilities — gender-marked portable toilets — specifically for people to shit in the woods; the ones for bears, however, are open-defecation sites (in Bizarro-World, at least).

As it happens, bears have often been cartooned in the woods, especially when bent on defecation; the idiom, both wry and dirty, is irresistibly attractive to humorists.

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Reaper days

October 31, 2019

For the dead season, Grim Reaper cartoons from Will McPhail. For today, Halloween, the GR goes trick-or-treating in the city:


(#1) ReaperWeen in McPhailia

And for tomorrow, the Day of the Dead, a whole series about the GR searching for a fashion look; the title image:


(#2) The New Yorker‘s Daily Shouts column from 1/28/19, “Death finds a signature look” by Will McPhail — in which the GR tries five experiments in fashion before settling on his signature black hooded robe and scythe

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Signtax and the Sloppy Joe apostrophe

October 29, 2019

Today’s Wayno/Piraro Bizarro collabo, with punctuation:


(#1) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 5 in this strip — see this Page. And stay tuned for a Bizarro, rather than Hindu-nationalist, interpretation of the initials BJP.)

Two linked things: the syntax of the sign on the hot dog cart; and the potential ambiguity of Sloppy Joe’s on the sign, as a possessive in standard spelling or as a plural in a very popular non-standard spelling.

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News at the Miss Albany

October 29, 2019

Yesterday’s Zippy takes us to a historic diner in Albany NY and its notifications boards:


(#1) Note the parochial character of the messages: bulletins about the diner’s offerings

The real diner’s interior:


(#2) From the diner’s last day of service, posted 2/17/12 on the All Over Albany site

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Fried pickles with ranch

October 28, 2019

The Zippy of 10/26, on the wisdom of potato-chip owls, especially those offering fried pickles with ranch:


(#1) Wise Potato Chips, a local company in my childhood days in eastern Pennsylvania, though now all over the place; also now with a product whose name is a little festival of morphological beheadings

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The Potato Fried

October 27, 2019

A Wayno cartoon from 4/11/16, an exercise in cartoon understanding:


(#1) “My name is Idaho Montoya. You peeled my father. Prepare to fry.”

(See the comments. It turns out that Wayno’s original was wordless, so this caption was added by some wag  — who deserves credit.)

If you don’t get a crucial reference, the cartoon is just silly, two cartoon potatoes having a duel with potato peelers. So you need to recognize that the figures are anthropomorphized potatoes, and that the things they are wielding are potato peelers. Then there are potato references in each sentence of the challenge: Idaho, famously a source of potatoes in the US; peeling, a step in preparing potatoes for many sorts of dishes; and frying, one common method of cooking potatoes (in French fries, for instance).

You will probably also catch the groaner pun in Prepare to fry, based on the stock expression from popular adventure fiction, Prepare to die.

But otherwise, it’s just a bit of fanciful silliness. In fact, it’s rich and complex, if you’re in on the jokes.

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