Archive for the ‘Compounds’ Category

On the rubber fowl beat

November 22, 2019

In my writing, it goes back a dozen years to a Language Log posting on rubber ducky, with further duck notes over the years; notable from the outset were items like the vinyl rubber ducky, a rubber ducky made of vinyl. And then today Bob Eckstein burst onto Facebook with a new Christmas item from the Archie McPhee company, a rubber chicken Christmas ornament — yes, a glass rubber chicken.

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Muscle Milk

November 21, 2019

(Yes, much about sexual meanings of this expression, so there will be much about men’s bodies and bodily fluids and man-man sexual practices, so not advisable for children or the sexually modest.)

Muscle Milk. A creamy sports protein supplement, with an entirely descriptive N + N compound name: ‘milk-like substance [a creamy drink] for (building) muscle(s)’. But as something of an enthusiast of both male genitals and semen, I immediately saw a sexual reading, ‘milk-like substance [semen] from a (metaphorical) muscle [a penis]’. Salacious smiles ensued.

I doubt that a sexual reading occurred to the makers of Muscle Milk, but then they didn’t reckon with people like me. (And in their defense, I should say that though the sexual senses of muscle and milk are both attested, the combination muscle milk seems to have been used only in the name of their product and not to be attested in a sexual semse.)

As a bonus, most of their original flavors are crèmes.

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Revisiting 37: pie charts

November 15, 2019

Follow-ups on two themes: pie chart referring to a graphic display of information; and categories and labels in the domain of desserts, notably in the PIE, SWEET-PIE, and CAKE categories. Spurred by a link (from Kim Darnell) to this posting on the edible Austin site (as in Austin TX), “A Guide to Deciphering Dessert” by Bambi Edlund:


(#1) Another sense of pie chart: ‘chart of pies, a charting of pies, a chart showing pies’ (parallel to flower painting, room diagram, and part(s) list), vs. pie chart ‘chart resembling a pie’ (parallel to penguin suit, penis mushroom, and mushroom penis)

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Chart pie

November 14, 2019

The Wayno/Piraro Bizarro collabo from the 9th:


(#1) If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 2 in this strip — see this Page. Meanwhile, the pie segments run through the flavors in the order named, clockwise from the pumpkin segment at the top.

Transpositional wordplay of an especially simple sort, involving a two-word expression, with X Y ~ Y X — in this case taking off from a conventional N + N compound, the metaphorical  pie chart ‘chart resembling a pie’, and reversing the parts to yield the novel, and entertaining, (also metaphorical) compound chart pie ‘pie resembling a chart’.

The model expression pie chart refers to an object familiar in our culture, while the play expression chart pie refers to something novel and surprising: a pie made up of segments drawn from various different pies. Not a combination or mixed pie, like the familiar strawberry rhurbarb pie — a kind of hybrid pie — but instead a composite (‘made up of various parts or elements’ (NOAD) or chimerical pie, with distinct parts taken from different pies. (On chimeras, see my 11/13 posting “The chimera of Faneuil Hall”.)

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Heavenly POP

October 18, 2019

It’s been about ten days since the last POP (phrasal overlap portmanteau) here — a 10/9/19 posting “Two old cartoon friends”, with doctors without border collies — so, on the theory that regular POPs are good for the mind and the spirit, today’s Wayno/Piraro Bizarro collabo, at the very gates of heaven:

pearly gates + gate-crasher

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

Appreciating the cartoon requires that you be familiar with the pop-culture story (whose source is the Christian Bible) of St. Peter at the pearly gates to heaven; that you be familiar with the belief (spread by an 1989 animated movie) that all dogs go to heaven; that you know the idiomatic synthetic compound gate-crasher; and that you know the idiomatic nouning plus-one. That’s a lot of cultural stuff.

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BOY Party!

September 12, 2019

E-mail from the Stanford linguistics department on the 10th, under the header:

Save the Date: BOY Party 9/27

Whoa! I thought, conjuring up images of a department party featuring attractive young men — as entertainers (maybe some lesser-known boy bands), as guests of honor (very young up-and-coming NLP entrepreneurs, perhaps), as party staff (a phalanx of Ganymedes, in costume), purely as eye candy (twinks on parade), whatever — things are really loosening up in Margaret Jacks Hall!

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bricks ˈnˈ mortar

August 31, 2019

Roz Chast in the September 2nd New Yorker:

(#1)

An exercise in the semantics of N + N compounds, exploiting an ambiguity that might not have occurred to you:

in the semantics of the modifying N, N1 (here, the coordinate N bricks and mortar);

in the semantics of the head N, N2 (here, the understood N store);

and in the semantics of the relation between N2 and N1  (here, ‘N2 for N1, (specifically) N2 selling N1’, in this case ‘store selling bricks and mortar — rather than the ‘N2 (made) of/from N1’ relation in the familiar conventionalized compound brick(s) and mortar store ‘store (made) of/from bricks and mortar’.

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Annals of category labels: food from a hole in the ground

August 28, 2019

… or edible roots (with root covering any underground plant organ), or whatever you call the stuff. In the 7/30 One Big Happy, Ruthie, confronted with /hol fudz/, takes it to be just such a label, hole foods, when her mother is referring instead to a grocery store, Whole Foods:

(#1)

The conventional (semi-technical) label for the category in question is root vegetables.

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shaker of salt

August 26, 2019

Today’s Wayno/Piraro Bizarro collabo:


(#1) A parade of unidiomatic prepositional alternatives (with the P of) to the synthetic compounds cheese grater, nutcracker, meat cleaver, egg timer

(Wayno’s title: “Rhyme & Punishment”; see comments below)

To understand the relevance of these nominals, you need to know not only who Jimmy Buffett is and that his most famous song is the notoriously ohrwurmisch “Margaritaville”, you actually need to know a crucial couplet from the song:

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Exception-triggered alternation

August 25, 2019

Exhibit A: the joke routine That’s Good / That’s Bad from an Archie Campbell comedy sketch — discussed in my 7/22/19 posting “Oh that’s good”.

Exhibit B: the principles that predict when a N + N compound in English has primary accent on the first (modifier) N (front stress, or forestress) and when that accent falls on the second (head) N (back stress, or afterstress) — discussed in my old paper “Forestress and afterstress”, (OSU Working Papers in Linguistics, 1986, viewable on-line here).

From a sufficiently abstract point of view, these two phenomena can be seen to be manifestations of a single scheme, which I’ll refer to as exception-triggered alternation.

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