Archive for the ‘Morphology’ Category

The compounds of commerce and the comics

June 3, 2022

A little study in N + N compounds in English, their great utility and versatility (they pack a lot of content into two-word expressions), and their consequent massive potential ambiguity (so that divining the intended meaning can require vast amounts of background knowledge and appreciating details of the context in which the compound is used). You can have (great) brevity, or you can have (great) clarity, but you can’t have both at once.

From the world of commerce, the compound dog spot (which many of us will not have encountered before, or will take to be a reference to the coat pattern of Dalmatian dogs). From the comic strips, two compounds that have conventional interpretations but can also be understood in fresh and unconventional ways: from One Big Happy, dancing school; from Bizarro, cowboy.

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Now serving at the Raven Cafe

May 11, 2022

Today’s Mother Goose and Grimm, with the POP (phrasal overlap portmanteau) Edgar Allan Po’ Boy = Edgar Allan Poe (the American writer and poet) + po’ boy (the superb New Orleans submarine sandwich):


(#1) Edgar Allan Po’ Boy is a N1 + N2 compound N, understood as having the head, N2, semantically associated with the modifier, N1, by (the referent of) N2’s being named after (the referent of) N1 — parallel to the Woody Allen Sandwich (a tower of corned beef and pastrami) at NYC’s Carnegie Deli

(Plus the allusion to Poe’s poem The RavenQuoth the raven, “Nevermore” — in Grimm’s, “I had it once, but… nevermore”.)

If you were a betting person, you would surely put some money on this MGG strip as not being the first to use this particular POP — of course, that would be fine, it’s all in how you develop the joke — and you would win.

Just on this blog, in Zippy postings from 2016 and a Rhymes With Orange posting in 2017.

Plus bonuses: a texty with a pun turning on the ambiguity of /póbòj/ as either po’ boy or Poe boy; and two cartoons turning on Edgar Allan Poe / Po’ Boy understood as a Source or Ingredient compound (parallel to shrimp po’ boy) — yes, Edgar Allan Poe in a po’ boy, in it, good enough to eat.

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The Merry Homomonth of May

May 3, 2022

(Men’s genitals, man-on-man sex, lots of street talk about them, entirely unsuitable for kids and the sexually modest.)

The Merry Homomonth of May on my two male calendars for 2022: the Tom of Finland calendar (which is mostly free of naughty bits) in my living room, where visitors (I do have an occasional one) can see it; the Cocky Boys / CockyBoys / Cockyboys calendar (which is all about the naughty bits) stashed away in my bedroom, where it can be viewed from my bed and so can provide me with an inspirational penis boost as called for by the exigencies of the moment.

So, in order: the ToF, which turns out to be primarily (though not exclusively) about gay men’s nipples, or tits, as we usually call them (metonymically); and then three months of CockyBoy cocks (April through June).

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The sequel to my allergic ass

May 1, 2022

🐇 🐇 🐇 pour le premier mai. A follow-up to yesterday’s posting “My allergic ass”, which was (mostly) about pronominal ass — possessive pronoun + ass, used of a person, to refer not to their buttocks but to that person: his ass ‘he, him’, your ass ‘you’, my ass ‘I, me’.

[Ambiguity may ensue: my ass is warm can mean either ‘my buttocks are warm’ or ‘I am warm’ (you have to figure out from context which was intended); while my ass is heart-shaped is probably about my buttocks (well, I might be Candy Man, shaped like a candy heart), and my ass is allergic is probably about me (though I might conceivably have buttocks afflicted by contact dermatitis).]

Now: through Facebook discussions, two different threads have emerged from that posting: one about material in a long citation in the 2006 Beavers and Koontz-Garboden paper on pronominal ass; the other about the source of the example — my allergic ass — that provoked my posting.

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Bookchella

April 28, 2022

From Nancy Friedman on her Fritinancy site (“Names, brands, writing, and the language of commerce”) on 4/25, “Word of the week: Bookchella”:

The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, first held in 1996, returned to the USC campus last weekend after a two-year Covid hiatus. Because April 22 through 24 was also the final weekend of this year’s Coachella Music Festival, held 130 miles away in Southern California’s Colorado Desert, someone — maybe the person in charge of the Times’s Twitter feed — decided it would be cute to call the literary festival #Bookchella.

And just like that, –chella became the new –stock: a portable suffix denoting “festival.”

Except it wasn’t exactly “just like that.” And watch your back, LATFOB: the music festival in the desert has a history of refusing to give up its –chella without a legal fight.

Some linguistic background first. The –chella in #Bookchella operates as a “libfix” (liberated affix), as the linguist Arnold Zwicky dubbed such word parts, which are also known as productive bound morphemes. Tack –chella onto the end of another word and you communicate “festival.” For decades now, –stock, clipped from Woodstock, has played a similar role. (Read my 2013 article about “X-stock.”) Other well-known libfixes include –gate for any scandal and –preneur for any independent businessperson. (More libfixes here; read my 2014 article about –preneur compounds here.)

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non-profits

April 4, 2022

Today’s morning name, the C[ount] noun non-profit, as in this real-life example (lifted from this very blog):

Partners of the Common Cents Lab are tech companies, banks, credit unions, non-profits, and government organizations

And in this NOAD entry:

adj. nonprofit [AZ: very frequently non-profit]: [attributive] not making or conducted primarily to make a profit: charities and other nonprofit organizations. noun mainly North American a nonprofit organization: I spent the next six years working for small nonprofits.

(With clearly C noun occurrences boldfaced)

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The Tides of March

March 15, 2022

For the 15th of March, Tim Evanson created this image (reproduced here with his permission):


(#1) Tim used a picture from a “Kittendales” calendar; a free clipart calendar page of March; and pictures of Tide products from the Target web site

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When the palm trunks

March 5, 2022

Report on Facebook today from Sim Aberson (in South Florida) about his “daily constitutional” with his husband, where they encountered:


Copernicia macroglossa, petticoat palm, a very slow-growing species

Sim wrote:

When they eventually trunk, the old fronds produce a beautiful petticoat.

Yes, the noun trunk ‘stem of a tree’, verbed, to yield intransitive trunk ‘(of a tree) produce a trunk’.

For a moment, I thought that Sim had salted the verbing in there just for me to find — he knows my tastes — but then I realized that this is the way palm people talk (Sim and Mike are serious plant guys) — because the verb is a genuinely useful one for growers of palms.

An old story: people go around promiscuously nouning and verbing, occasionally for cleverness (and there’s nothing wrong with that), but usually because in one of their worlds — often a very specialized world — the innovative form is a good thing to have to hand.

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surfdom

February 22, 2022

The Zippy strip for 2/20, in which Bill Griffith gets to goof on surf vs. serf:

(#1) Zippy’s title: “Serf City!!”, playing on the song title “Surf City”

panel 1: the serf wakes up in his cell and gets up — the idiomatic phrase surf’s up, roughly ‘the waves are good for surfing; let’s do it’, so figuratively ‘conditions are good for action; let’s get on with it’

panel 2: the serf surfing the net — the (metaphorical) verb surf ‘move from page to page or site to site on’

panel 3: the serf channel-surfing — the (similarly metaphorical) synthetic-compound verb channel-surf ‘change frequently from one television channel to another’

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Men’s Briefs: the locked gaze

February 20, 2022

(A little tribute to, among other things, man-on-man anal sex in the Cowboy position, and the facial expressions and gaze accompanying the act — so definitely not for kids or the sexually modest. There are fuzzed-up images below; the photos with the genitals untouched are in a parallel posting “The locked gaze” on AZBlogX today.)

A Falcon Studios e-mail ad yesterday:

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