Archive for the ‘Compounds’ Category

Rugrat regrets

July 2, 2016

The morning name from two days ago, a bit of language play, with the repeated pattern

r … gr … t  r … gr … t

apparently invented in my sleeping head rather than remembered from previous experience. The whole thing is a N + N compound, and as such, is capable of a range of interpretations — primarily in two broad classes: with an object interpretation of rugrats, ‘regrets about / over rugrats’, on various accounts; and with a subject interpretation of rugrats, ‘regrets of / by rugrats’, also on various accounts.

Then there’s the first element of the compound, itself a N + N compound, composed of rug + rat literally ‘rat located on, inhabiting a rug”, but with rat understood metaphorically (referring to small children as rat-like creatures) and rug understood metonymically (referring to household play surfaces more generally). The result is a colorful way of referring to toddlers, with the verminous connotations of rat apparently bleached out by playfulness.


Geek compounds

June 4, 2016

Today’s Zippy, returning to Pancake Circus, to trade geek compounds:


Three things: the expressions being traded, which start out in panel 1 as N + N compounds from the tech world, both Ns monosyllables, and then get a bit more varied, but still with accent on the initial syllable (the default accentuation for  compounds); the final expression, FlapJax, certainly referring to flapjacks (a U.S. synonym for pancakes, as fits the Pancake Circus context) but possibly also to the fictional character Jax from the Mortal Combat games (in line with the tenchnogeek theme); and the re-use of the visual material from another Zippy cartoon, now with different text.



May 7, 2016

The wonderful creation of Pierce in Zits:

binge-bingeing is the PRP form of a verb to binge-binge, which is an instance of one or the other of two different compound V constructions of the form to N + V, whose semantic and pragmatic differences are small enough to ignore here.


Peter Kuper

May 6, 2016

It starts with a single-panel gag cartoon in the April 2016 Funny Times:


First, things you need to know to get this cartoon. Then, information about cartoonist and graphic novelist Peter Kuper and his other work.


Verbing compounds: to turkey-peek, to prairie-dog

April 12, 2016

On ADS-L recently, first a report by Jon Lighter on the verbing to turkey-peek, based on the remarkable compound turkey peek (roughly) ‘peeking by a turkey’ (but understood metaphorically), which led Bill Mullins to note the semantically similar verbing to prairie-dog, based on the compound prairie dog ‘(metaphorical) dog of/from the prairie’. In both cases, what is indexed in the verbing is the characteristic motion of a creature — of a turkey peeking around a corner, of a prairie dog popping its head out of its burrow.


Cucumber soap

April 6, 2016

Today’s One Big Happy (from a bit earlier), in which Ruthie copes with the N + N compound cucumber soap, meant as a source compound (soap with cucumbers, or their scent, as the principal or most significant ingredient in it), while Ruthie takes it to be a use compound (soap used for (cleaning) cucumbers):



Plastic Fantastic Pinhead

March 8, 2016

Today’s Zippy, taking us back into the world of Doggie Diner heads and Muffler Men, roadside fiberglass icons that Zippy engages in conversation with every so often. Today they give him astonishing news about his origins:


The toy poodle

January 22, 2016

Yet another cartoon — and there are more in the queue.

Today’s Mother Goose and Grimm, with a cute play on the ambiguity of toy:


butt/booty, dial/call

January 20, 2016

Yesterday’s Rhymes With Orange:

The nouns butt and booty overlap in their uses, and so do the verbs dial and call, and so do the related nouns dial and call. However… the compound nouns butt dial and booty call (also the related verbs butt dial and booty call) are both slang idioms, and they aren’t at all interchageable.


The family that fund-raises together

January 17, 2016

From a Gail Collins column “Everything’s Relative” in the NYT on the 14th, about political candidates engaging their families in their campaigns:

Remember Jeb? He was going to run as his own man, but people on the campaign mailing list are getting requests for donations from George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Barbara Bush, George P. Bush and Columba Bush [Jeb’s father, brother, mother, son, and wife, respectively]. The family that fund-raises together stays together.

Collins chose to use the 2-part back-formed V (2pbfV) fund-raises rather than the phrase raises funds, and (though a fair number of people, including some language critics, are deeply hostile to 2pbfVs, as unnecessary innovations) in my opinion that was an excellent choice: fund-raises describes an activity that is more unitary, and more specific, than raises funds. There’s a distinction here that’s come up on this blog several times, and there’s also a general principle at work, a principle I’ll call Structural Tightness.



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