Archive for the ‘Linguistics in the comics’ Category

The Chinese diner

June 5, 2019

Today’s Zippy takes us to a bit of now-vanished Camden NJ, the Elgin Diner Restaurant, and, next to it, a fantasy Chinese diner, an amalgam of two items of demotic culinary Americana: the classic diner (an Art Deco railcar where people meet to eat plain, familiar food); and the little Chinese (that is, American-Cantonese) restaurant:

(#1)

This will take us on the road to Ardmore PA, Wheeling WV, and Idaho Falls ID. For the trip, choose a diner classic — tuna melt, patty melt, club sandwich, meatloaf, macncheese — from column A; and a Chinese-restaurant classic — hot and sour soup, chow mein, garlic eggplant, General Tso’s chicken, sweet and sour pork — from column B. And then wok this way.

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The dog of ivy

June 3, 2019

… stands guard in the San Fernando Valley, providing poodle thoughts for Zippy on his morning walk today:


(#1) Zipphorism: “Sometimes I feel like my thoughts are thinking me”

We are figments of our thoughts’ imagination; the topiary poodle tells us so.

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Follow-up: BOOIESUZYKQHHHH

June 2, 2019

From the annals of Cartoonland spelling bees, in my 5/31 posting “Ultimate spelling bee”, this Bob Eckstein cartoon:


(#1) The contestant offers BOOIESUZYKQHHHH as the spelling for the given pronunciation /búwisúzikyú/ (or something very close to that)

In creating this cartoon (hastily — if you’re doing a bunch of cartoons a day, you don’t have a lot of time for reflection), Eckstein pulled some pronounceable nonsense out of his head as the contest word. The result is an expression with recognizable parts, two of which, /súzi + kyú/ form a familiar name — Susie Q — while the other, /búwi/, might be heard as any of several names, but in Eckstein’s mind was just two nonsense syllables that bubbled up in the heat of the moment.

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Ultimate spelling bee

May 31, 2019

A Bob Eckstein cartoon circulated today, on the occasion of an unprecedented event in the world of English spelling competitions:


(#1) FB note from Bob: “Can you use it in a sentence?”

Story in the New York Times today,  “National Spelling Bee, at a Loss for Words, Crowns 8 Co-Champions” (octo-champs, as one of them said) by Daniel Victor.

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On the dog food watch

May 29, 2019

The 5/27 Wayno-Piraro Bizarro strip, set in the Land of Dogs:


(#1) (If you wonder about the secret symbol in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there’s just one in this strip — see this Page.)

A dog food with Quibbles in its name is of course not going to agree with you, in one sense of agree with. So you can understand the cartoon, and see that the pun on agree with in it makes it amusing — and still miss the extra joke that Wayno and Piraro threw in for you.

The cartoon would have been funny if the dog food had been named just Quibbles. But Quibbles and Fits is a lot funnier, because it’s another pun, on the name of the (actual) dog food Kibbles and Bits. But of course you have to know about this particular commercial product to get that joke.

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High 5 from a bison

May 25, 2019

(After the cartoons and the lexicography, John Rechy will take this posting into the world of mansex, in some detail and in very plain talk; that section is not for kids or the sexually modest, but I’ll warn you when it’s looming on the horizon.)

Two bison greet each other in a John Baynham cartoon with a wonderful pun:

(#1)

That’s numbers (roughly ‘amount’, but as a PL C noun) — and indeed large numbers of buffalo did once roam the plains of North America — vs. numbers referring to physical models, or simulacra, of symbols for certain abstract mathematical entities — in this case, the natural numbers. Such physical models are also familiar: think of the letters in the HOLLYWOOD sign, or the numbers on the building at 666 Fifth Ave. in NYC (with its own kind of fame as a Jared Kushner property). But people don’t walk around with, much less inside, giant versions of such models. That’s deliciously absurd.

Looking at the lexical items involved will take us deep into the lexicographic weeds and then to the secret places of mansex, starting with the dim recesses of Griffith Park in Los Angeles.

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Brenda the Civil Disobedience Penguin

May 25, 2019

From ace penguin-spotter Martin Mulligan, a link to First Dog on the Moon cartoons by Guardian Australia’s Andrew Marlton (a list of his cartoons is available here): dense but wry text on political issues, often featuring the character Brenda the Civil Disobedience Penguin, as in this 5/8/19 strip “Throwing eggs is satisfying but is it right? Quite possibly”:

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What a piece of work is Miss Lucille

May 22, 2019

The 4/25 One Big Happy features Miss Lucille:

(#1)

Ah, a piece of work.

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Stravinsky’s 1970 Firebird and the Ghoulliard Quartet

May 20, 2019

Music, cartoons, and language play, plus Slavic folklore, Seiji Ozawa and his expressive hair, pony cars, symphony trumpeters, NPR, and Frankenstein’s monster. It starts with this wonderful cartoon by Jeffrey Curnow from the NPR site (hat tip to Virginia Transue):

(#1)

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Is Timmy in trouble?

May 16, 2019

The Wayno/Piraro Bizarro from the 14th shows us Lassie trying to deliver a message about Timmy:


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

Ah, a variant of the Lassie-Timmy cartoon meme. With a play on the senses of be in trouble. From various dictionaries:

(i) ‘in a problematic situation or state of hardship’
(ii) ‘in peril, danger’
(iii) ‘subject to or due for punishment’
(iv) (euph.) ‘pregnant and unmarried’

In the usual cartoon meme, Timmy is in trouble in sense (i) or (ii) — classically, he has fallen down a well — but in #1, it’s sense (iii). I haven’t found an instance of the meme that bends gender to take advantage of sense (iv), but it’s certainly imaginable. (And for a possibility torn from the headlines, if you’re in trouble in sense (iv) and get an abortion, in Alabama you’re now in trouble in sense (iii).)

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