Archive for the ‘Compounds’ Category

A compound puzzle

August 21, 2016

Thursday on ADS-L, a report from Wilson Gray, with his baffled reaction (shared by others in the mailing list):

Headline of political ad: “Meet TPP Champion [Name]!”

Body of political ad: “Among a handful of shining examples of fighters for social, economic, and environmental justice stands [Name], who has opposed the TPP and TTIP since before most of us had even heard about them!” [TPP: Trans Pacific Partnership; TTIP: Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership]

Is this headline meant to convey the idea, somehow, that [Name] is a “TPP champion” not in the obvious sense that he champions the TPP against the left, but, instead, in the opposite sense, that he champions the left against the TPP?

How are we to interpret X champion? It’ll be helpful to get away from the particulars of this particular example by introducing an X that (I hope) will have no political associations for my readers: Fosdick. What might Fosdick champion refer to? In NPs like:

a Fosdick champion, the Fosdick champion, our Fosdick champion

an early Fosdick champion, the celebrated Fosdick champion, our greatest Fosdick champion


the Ving N

August 9, 2016

Today’s Mother Goose and Grimm, with language play in honor of the Olympics:

V-PRP + N can be understood in several ways, sometimes subtly different, but potentially distinguished by accent pattern and often associated with ambiguities in the V. As with the opening ceremony here, with (roughly) the Olympic Interpretation ‘ceremony in which an event opens, that is, begins’ (with primary accent on ceremony) vs. the Can Interpretation ‘ceremony in which the top of something is removed to get at its contents’ (with primary accent on opening).

Fixed expressions

August 7, 2016

Two recent cartoons turning on fixed expressions, compounds in fact: a Rhymes With Orange and a One Big Happy:




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: