Archive for the ‘Linguistics in the comics’ Category

The library hookers and booze joke

September 25, 2020

The joke, which was new to me and entertained me enormously:

(#1)

(more…)

The multipurpose elephant

September 24, 2020

In the 9/28 New Yorker, this Danny Shanahan cartoon:


(#1) “And this is Dyson.”

The cartoon is incomprehensible if you don’t know that Dyson is the name of a brand of vacuum cleaners (which come with a variety of attachments, as does the elephant above).

(more…)

Feeling more one-headed

September 23, 2020

The Zippy from 1/30/20, which I’ve been saving for the appropriate occasion, which has now materialized, as a follow-up to a note in my posting earlier today “Great progress, grave threat”:

Zippy’s crucial observation, in the first panel:

Sometimes, the two-headed dog makes me feel more one-headed!

Roughly, if you are far from (what counts as) normal, then someone who is further out than you are can make you feel almost normal.

(more…)

Latinx

September 22, 2020

From the Vox site “Latina, Latino, or LatinX? Here’s how the term came about: The gender-neutral term that’s supposed to be for everyone, well, isn’t” by Terry Blas on 10/23/19

The occasion for this posting is a net conference yesterday on latinx — referring to an orthographic form; also to its various pronunciations by speakers of Spanish; and especially to its choice as an racial/ethnic/cultural (self-)descriptor.

(more…)

Out of the water and back again

September 19, 2020

In the 9/21 issue of the New Yorker, this Lila Ash cartoon “Evolution of Man”:


(#1) New Yorker description of the cartoon: The evolution of man from a fish to a human throwing their phone in the water, and swimming in to retrieve it.

Yet another variation on the Ascent of Man theme; there have been so many of these on this blog that there’s a Page cataloguing them, here.

(more…)

Tom of Finland at 100

September 15, 2020

(Well, it’s Tom of Finland, so it’s all about men’s bodies and mansex, and not suitable for kids or the sexually modest.)

On the Advocate site on 9/14, “Happy 100 Years: The Tom of Finland Biography”, on a new book on ToF:

(#1)

ToF is flagrantly about huge penises and muscular buttocks, and about intense sex between men, but (more important) also about the emotional relationships beween those men. It’s all extravagant fantasy, but also a celebration of gay male desire and affiliation in all of its forms, and so it has provided reassurance to untold numbers of gay men who scarcely resemble the fantasy sexually heroic figures of ToF — we are, variously, indetectable in the straight world and effeminate and dorky and little-dicked and horse-dicked and insecure and out-and-proud and full of shame — but can find in these figures validation of their desires and practices (notably, receptive anal intercourse: Real Men Take It Up the Ass). Plus, a lot of it is funny.

(more…)

All they will call you will be “escapees”

September 13, 2020

Well, maybe also “escapers”, or even “escapettes”, as in this One Big Happy cartoon from 8/17, which taps into a much-studied phenomenon in English morphology:

(#1)

From my 1/9/15 posting “-ee” (warning: this goes, unavoidably, pretty deep into the technical weeds of syntax and semantics):

The great resource on [the English derivational suffix] –ee is a 1998 paper by Chris Barker in Language (74.695-727), “Episodic -ee in English: A thematic role constraint on new word formation” (stable URL here), which uses a database of “fifteen hundred naturally occurring tokens of some five hundred word types” to analyze the semantics of the suffix; it also has a full bibliography of relevant literature on the subject.

(more…)

The croup

September 12, 2020

The One Big Happy strip from 8/21:

Ruthie, faced with the unfamiliar medical term the croup, does her best to assimilate it to what she knows, namely the ordinary-language term for a physical condition, the creeps. But this time, she guesses that croup is a portmanteau, of group and creeps.

(more…)

Red Löbster Cult

September 9, 2020

The band name in today’s Wayno/Piraro Bizarro, a cute play on Blue Öyster Cult (if you don’t know about Blue Öyster Cult, then the cartoon will be pretty much of a mystery to you):


(#1) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 2 in this strip — see this Page.)

A band of lobsters. They have an umlaut. They have cowbell.

It’s all an elaborate play on BÖC.

(more…)

Crossed folk stories

September 9, 2020

Yesterday’s Wayno/Piraro Bizarro cartoon:


(#1) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 4 in this strip — see this Page)

The strip explicitly refers to the legend of the Pied Piper of Hamelin, but also alludes to the Piper’s son as having stolen a pig. This is baffling unless you know a particular English nursery rhyme, so we have another exercise in cartoon understanding.

Ok, let’s assume you get that. Then the cartoon is a kind of conceptual portmanteau, a cross between the Piper legend and the Piper’s son nursery rhyme. Then set in a modern law-enforcement context, juxtaposing some (stereotyped) version of the real world with the world of these two folk stories. Cool.

(more…)