Archive for the ‘Linguistics in the comics’ Category

Punallusive protest

July 14, 2018

Passed on to me by Joe Transue, this sign from massive protests in London against the current state visit by Helmet Grabpussy:

(#1)

Either this is just a taunt, or you get the allusion — and then you are probably suffering from an earworm, with the words:

We don’t need no education
We don’t need no thought control
No dark sarcasm in the classroom
Teachers leave them kids alone
Hey! Teachers! Leave them kids alone
All in all it’s just another brick in the wall
All in all you’re just another brick in the wall

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Golden Meanies

July 12, 2018

On Sandra Boynton‘s Facebook page yesterday:

Today is Pet Photo Day, so here is a recent snapshot of my semi-domesticated Golden Meanie, Fibonacci.

(#1)

Golden Meanie is a bit of complex language play, combining the mathematical term golden mean (aka golden ratio); a reference to the Blue Meanies of the animated film Yellow Submarine; and a reference to the amiable domestic dog breeds the golden retriever and the golden Labrador. Plus, the name of Boynton’s Golden Meanie, Fibonacci, is a reference to the Fibonacci sequence in mathematics, which is intimately related to the golden ratio.

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grill(e)

July 11, 2018

Two items from early in June. First, the Zippy strip from June 2nd, a hymn to the 1957 Nash Metropolitan (a genuinely cute car, unlike current models, with their angry grilles):

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Then, following a brief June 1st Facebook posting by grizzled copyeditor John McIntyre (of the Baltimore Sun) —

Yesterday: “pallet” for “palette.” Today: “palate” for “palette.”

— this complaint from UK copyeditor LS:

I’ve done a series of seven novels for an author [AZ: call him Auth] who can’t keep the differen[ce] between grille and grill in his head. And he uses it several times per story. And yes, I’ve told him – and it’s in every single word list I send him. I guess we all have a blind spot. Or maybe he’s doing it on purpose now, to wind me up!

LS’s report is characteristic of everyday reports about the way others use language: people describe usage in vague, abstract generalizations (“Sandy gets words mixed up”); they’re inclined to treat usages via their import for them (“Sandy insulted me”); and they are inclined to talk about what others can’t do rather than what they actually do (“Sandy can’t pronounce r”) . From such reports, we can’t tell what Sandy says, in what circumstances. We don’t know what Auth writes in what circumstances, beyond that it has something to do with the spellings grill and grille. John McIntyre’s report, in contrast, is quite clear; we might go on to investigate why one of his authors wrote pallet where palette would be standard, and another wrote palate where palette would be standard, but at least we have some facts to go on.

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seller / cellar

July 10, 2018

In the June 13th One Big Happy, Ruthie’s mother says seller, but Ruthie hears cellar:

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Ruthie knows about cellars ‘basements’ (or ‘underground storage rooms’), but apparently not about bestsellers.

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What did the Cretan bull say to Hercules when the hero tamed him?

July 10, 2018

μ μ

(but the bull was real butch about it, and anyway that’s the Greek Way)

Meanwhile, the Greek letter mu is wide open for cow cartoons, like this recent one (from February 1st) by Scott Hilburn, passed on to me by Facebook friends:

(#1)

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How to use the F-word

July 8, 2018

Yesterday’s Doonesbury:

Absurdly poor advice, but Trudeau knew that. (To start with, speech doesn’t have commas in it; commas are visual marks.) Still, lots of people think that using fuck is just a matter of plugging it in whenever the mood strikes you, while in fact in addition to its use as a copulatory verb (itself a topic of some complexity), fuck functions as a little grammatical word, with a syntax as complex as other little grammatical words — so, for, too, etc. Plus, of course, all sorts of sociocultural conditions on when it’s appropriate.

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Word division days

July 8, 2018

A Twitter-based cartoon on the Analytical Gramar/Grammar Planet Facebook page:


(#1) FAT ALBERT vs. FATAL BERT

No spaces in hashtags, hence the orthographic ambiguity.

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Adam atom

July 8, 2018

Today’s Bizarro plays on Adam vs. atom and on the ambiguity of bomb:

(If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 11 in this strip — see this Page.)

The sentence Adam bombs, with intransitive bomb ‘fail miserably’ — hey, it’s a really tough audience — in the pres. 3sg. vs. the (plural) compound N atom bombs.

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Following instructions

July 7, 2018

The instruction goes COVER ME or COVER YOURSELF. What are you supposed to do? Well, the verb cover, um, covers a lot of possibilities, so there’s plenty of room for play, amply illustrated in cartoons and other forms of visual/verbal play. Especially common are plays on COVER ME intended as having what I’ll call “gunfire cover” but understood as having some other sense, in particular what I’ll call “(general) placement cover“; and plays on COVER YOURSELF intended as having what I’ll call “corporal-modesty cover” (cover your nakedness) but understood as having (general) placement cover.

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Food and sex for the 4th

July 6, 2018

Running a bit late, but here are four (US) Independence Day items: two pieces of watermelon news (just food); phallic hot dogs (food and sex); and a go-to guy for holiday gay porn (just sex). The last two items involve men’s bodies and mansex discussed in street language, so aren’t suitable for everyone.

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