Archive for the ‘Conversion’ Category

Am I a bird?

July 4, 2019

The 7/3 Rhymes With Orange takes us to the Home for Aged Superheroes, where Superman is unsure of the volant creature he sees in the mirror and fears he’s going blind, or slipping into dementia (an unusually poignant theme for a cartoon):


(#1) In the land of the caped superheroes

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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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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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homeworks

May 21, 2019

A facebook exchange back on the 6th, between Andrew Carnie (professor of linguistics and dean of the Graduate College at the Univ. of Arizona) and Karen Chung (associate professor at National Taiwan University, teaching courses on linguistics and English).

Andrew: [Student], who only came to class less than 50% of the time, and turned in a bunch of assignments (really) late: These homeworks are way. too. hard. It’s unfair.

Karen: “Homework” as a countable noun? Is he/she a native speaker of English?

Academics will recognize Andrew’s note as the plangent lament of a professor facing the grading tasks at the end of a term, confronted with a self-entitled student who believes they are really smart, so preparation outside of class shouldn’t take much work (and they should be able to ace the final without much studying).

But what Karen picks up on is the use the noun homework as a C(ount) noun, clearly so because it occurs in the plural form homeworks here; for the M(ass) noun homework, the usage would be: This homework is way. too. hard. Or else: These homework assignments are way. too. hard.

Much as I sympathize deeply with Andrew’s lament — having had nearly 50 years of similar experiences (fortunately far outweighed by students who were a delight to teach) — what this posting is about is the C/M thing. There’s a fair amount to get clear about first, and then I’ll have some analysis, some data, and some reflections on larger matters (language use in particular communities of practice, the tension between brevity and clarity as factors in language use).

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Where are you going with that?

April 30, 2019

The One Big Happy from 4/3, recently in my comics feed: the tough neighborhood kid James and his sledgehammer:

(#1)

What I hear in the first panel is an echo of a quotation with an ax, not a sledgehammer:

‘Where’s Papa going with that axe?’ said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast.

One of the great first lines in English literature, just grips you right off, does E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web.

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bait and tackle

December 27, 2018

A coordination of two nouns, conventionally paired in bait & tackle shop, referring to a store that provides supplies for sport fishermen. Like this place in Benicia CA:

(#1)

And elaborately played on in the Bizarro  from December 23rd:

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Yoo-hoo, Aargau!

December 15, 2018

It started at the Peninsula Creamery in Palo Alto at breakfast (with Elizabeth Daingerfield Zwicky) this morning, quickly led to a chocolate beverage from northern New Jersey (and to manner-of-speaking verbs) and after a whirlwind worldwide beverage tour ended up with an echt-Swiss dairy soft drink from Canton Aargau, Switzerland (up north, on the flatlands near the Rhine).

The impetus for all this, a vintage advertising poster on the wall at the Creamery:


(#1) ASK FOR IT by NAME: Yoo-hoo

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Shake, shake, shake that death rattle

November 15, 2018

Today’s Calvin and Hobbes re-play has the two protagonists engaged in a heavy game of Cowboys and Indians:

(#1)

A play on two senses of rattle, denoting either a sound or a thing that makes a sound.

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Arousing the beast

November 7, 2018

In today’s comics feed, a One Big Happy that requires a double dose of pop-cultural moon knowledge to understand:

(#1)

A defiant gesture, a bit of lycanthropic folklore.

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PUMP!ing it up

October 17, 2018

(Homowear: male models in underwear, displaying their bodies homoerotically, with archly queer ad copy. Not X-rated, but not to everyone’s taste.)

The Daily Jocks ad for PUMP! underwear from the 15th:

(#1)

Underwear model as sculptural form. Mahogany Man.

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