Archive for the ‘Linguistics in the comics’ Category

Arthur Godfrey and friends

July 27, 2016

Today’s Zippy appears to be just a surrealist melange of pop-cultural absurdity (and can be enjoyed at that level), but in fact many of those absurdities are knit together in a web of allusions to elements of pop culture — probably even more densely than I appreciate.

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It all starts with Arthur Godfrey, who appears transformed as the central character of the strip, Siddartha Godfrey, with Arthur replaced by the phonologically very similar name SiddarthaSiddharth or Siddhartha is the birth name of the founder of Buddhism, Gautama Buddha.

Meanwhile, the title “Jerry Van Dyke Lives” introduces a secondary, parallel, theme having to do with Jerry Van Dyke.

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Comicat

July 26, 2016

Today’s Zippy takes us back in comics history:

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Felix the Cat. And Felix Chevrolet, 3330 S Figueroa St in L.A.

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A Ruthian eggcorn

July 26, 2016

The One Big Happy from the 24th:

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Ruthie wasn’t familiar with the word synchronized in the conventionalized composite synchronized swimming, so she interpreted t as best she could, and so it became sink-n-cries, which makes a lot more sense (as her father notes).

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Let’s go paleo

July 23, 2016

Today’s Bizarro:

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

Implementing he Paleolitic diet, Paleo diet, caveman diet, Stone Age diet, or hunter-gatherer diet, right along with the appropriate hunting practices, for the appropriate prey.

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The giant lava lamp of Soap Lake

July 23, 2016

(Not much about language here, just weirdness.)

Today’s Zippy, with a bow to a novelty item of the 1960s and a modern piece of visionary Americana:

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This being a Zippy strip, of course there is a giant lava lamp (roughly 60 ft. high), complete with observation deck, in the middle of the little town of Soap Lake WA — but it’s still a vision (of local resident Brent Blake), a prospect not yet realized. It’s a spectral lamp, a companion to Zippy the heartburned spectral rutabaga and the overripe parsnip he longs for:

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Michael Crawford

July 21, 2016

In the July 25th New Yorker, an affectionate brief memorial (by David Remnick, the magazine’s editor) for cartoonist Michael Crawford, “Remembering an adored cartoonist: Michael Crawford was a wry and sensitive artist whose sweet, jazzy personality converged with his work”, beginning:

Michael Crawford was a cartoonist and a painter, a wry and sensitive artist who woke each day with his head full of dreams. Straight from bed he reached for his pencils and pad, the better to get those images and word clusters down on paper. For at least an hour every morning, “Michael was mining his dreams,” his wife, Carolita Johnson, also a cartoonist for this magazine, said. “And when it came to cartoons he just started drawing, without any idea where things might go. Lots of drawings sat around for years without any caption. He was his own one-man cartoon-caption contest in that way. But he was patient.

There was a wild, improvisational streak in Crawford’s work. He loved baseball, and imagined a cockeyed intimacy in the talk between, say, two pros in the dugout: “Why so aloof in here? When you’re on base, you yak your ass off with every Yankee in sight.” A student of American art, he redrew many of Edward Hopper’s moody paintings as cartoons and then provided snappy dialogue for the painter’s lonely souls.

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Let’s just call it “grammar”

July 20, 2016

Yesterday’s Rhymes With Orange:

A visit to a theme park with a linguistic theme: it deals, at least, in onomatopoeia (rattle for the sound a rattlesnake’s tail makes), palindromes (expressions that read the same forwards and backwards, like the names Anna and Otto), and portmanteaus (like palindomedary, palindrome + dromedary) and their visual equivalents, like the palindromedary in the cartoon, a nice counterpart to Anna and Otto.

What to call a place that displayed such things — and anagrams and chiasmus and puns and limericks and knock-knock jokes and sports chants and ritualized insults and auctioneers’ patter and damning with faint praise and Cockney rhyming slang and all sorts of culture-specific phenomena that are manifested in a language (in this case, all are manifested in  English) but are not part of the system of that language, the way, say, Subject-Auxiliary Inversion is part of the system of English. Instead, they are things you can do with, or in, the language.

But we have no good word (or other fixed expression) for this rich assortment of language uses and rouitines, so (as in other cases) the poor overworked word grammar is pressed into service. And the theme park is called Grammar Land.

Zippy on a cross-comic run

July 16, 2016

In the “Ask the Archivist” column on the Comics Kingdom Blog (from King Features) on the 14th:

It’s been thirty years since Bill Griffith’s underground comix star Zippy The Pinhead went above ground and joined King Features Syndicate. Zippy had been around since 1971, so he’s in the midst of a forty-fifth anniversary, too.

Zippy, as you might know, was inspired by Griffith’s real-life interaction with a Pinhead, as well as Pinheads in popular culture, like the co-stars of the infamous film, “FREAKS” (MGM 1932).

But Griffith has always been more interested in the way culture has impressed him, especially that which addressed kids many years ago. At any time, incomprehensibly, long-dead actors or forgotten corporate mascots might appear, and interact with Zippy or Griffith’s cartoon alter ego. It’s like a surreal dream, often punctuated with misty bits of philosophy and out-of-date advertising catchphrases.

Today I’ve picked some of the Zipster’s various encounters with comic characters

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Garden moments

July 15, 2016

Today’s Calvin and Hobbes in my comics feed:

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In the land of sentient plants.

Meanwhile, I’ve been laboring on getting my little container garden in hand, after a decade of devastation, neglect, and drought. Into the land of vegetative reproduction (cymbidiums,geraniums / pelargoniums, coleus / plecranthus) and nurturing some gift plants (two succulent gardens, kalanchoe, penstemon, and hydrangea).

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goose bumps

July 14, 2016

The One Big Happy in my cartoon feed today has Ruthie once again coping with an expression that doesn’t make much sense to her: goose bumps:

At some point, she’d heard the expression (a N + N compound), understood that it came in two parts, and that as a whole it referred o a physical manifestation of fright (and perhaps other states of mind) — but failed to grasp the identities of the two parts and so remembered them incorrectly. In the simplest of terms, there are two ways to misidentify a lexical item: on the basis of phonology or on the basis of semantics; such perception + storage errors are the counterparts to two familiar types of production errors (phonological, aiming at presentation but producing preposition; semantic, aiming at research (assistant) but producing teaching).

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