Archive for the ‘Verbing’ Category

Where to door knock and cold call

October 19, 2022

… and, eventually, how to abracadabra things out of sight. Yes, it’s Verbing Day on AZ Blog!

Politics and real estate: to door knock. It started on the Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC on 10/11, with the cite presented here in its larger context:


(#1) to door knock / door-knock ‘knock on doors’ (in political canvassing): a N + V verb, whose origin lies in a back-formation from the synthetic compound door knocking / door-knocking

The semantics / pragmatics of the synthetic compound is specialized — not merely knocking on doors, but doing so in specific sociocultural settings (political canvassing and door-to-door solicitations by real estate agents, in particular) — and this specialization is shared by the 2pbfV (two-part back-formed V)

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Stilettoed on the balcony

August 3, 2022

The killing of Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri by a targeted U.S. drone strike (taking him down as he stood on a balcony) over the weekend in Afghanistan was described by an MSNBC commentator yesterday morning as

a stiletto strike:  with the N1 + N2 compound N stiletto strike ‘sudden (military) attack resembling a stiletto (in being very narrowly focused lethal weaponry)’; the sense of the N2 strike here is NOAD‘s 2 [a] a sudden attack, typically a military one

Possibly it was stiletto airstrike; it went by very fast, I haven’t seen another broadcast of it, and it’s not yet available on-line, so I can’t check — but I am sure of the N stiletto and the N strike and the intent of the commentator to commend the pinpoint accuracy of the operation.

It seems that the metaphor has been used occasionally in military circles for some years, but very rarely outside these circles, so that it came with the vividness of a fresh, rather than conventional, metaphor — but while it worked well for me (evoking the slim, pointed, lethal daggers of assassins), it might not have been so effective with others, whose mental image of a stiletto is the heel of a fashionable women’s shoe (slim and pointed,  but alluring rather than lethal).

Yes, the two senses (plus a few others that I won’t discuss here) are historically related, with the dagger sense the older and, in a series of steps, the source of the shoe sense. But of course ordinary speakers don’t know that, nor should they be expected to (such information is the province of specialists, historical linguists and lexicographers); what they know is how stiletto is used in their social world, and that’s likely to involve trendy footwear rather than medieval weaponry.

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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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The Crosse-Jones spunk affair

November 6, 2021

(The spunk in question is semen, so, yes, we’re going on another adventure with men’s genitals and sex between men, so this posting isn’t suitable for kids or the sexually modest.)

[Background note: see my 10/30/21 posting “Bearing the face for our era”, about the faces of Carolus-Duran (late 19th-century European art world) and Peter Korn (early 21st-century Silicon Valley tech world).]

Today’s story starts with my coming across Face 1 below (from a Lucas Films photo), on the cover art for the gay porn DVD London Spunked.


(#1) On the expression: narrowed eyes, lowered brows, intense gaze, somewhat tight mouth — possibly conveying a challenge, or dominance

We are all attentive to faces: we usually look at them first when we view a scene with figures in it, we check them to see if they’re familiar, we try to interpret their facial expressions, and so on. In this case, I think that, in any context whatsoever, on a quick view I’d have identified Face 1 as belonging to the same person as Face 2, a face I know very well (as a favorite actor in gay porn):


(#2) A different facial expression: eyes somewhat widened (especially his right eye), brows somewhat raised (especially his right brow), gaze alert but not intense, corners of the mouth slightly raised to make the hint of a smile — possibly conveying friendly interest

The two men have the same hair style and facial hair style, though #2 is darker and longer in both respects, but that could be just a temporary matter of grooming. #2’s skin tone is more golden-brown than #1’s pale skin, but that could just be tanning, or the lighting of the photos. #2 has a furry chest (visible at the neckline), while #1 is smooth, but that could just be a matter of trimming (in fact, the guy in #1 is not very furry, but keeps his chest trimmed down but not actually smooth, while the guy is #2 is naturally furry as above, but often trims his chest hair in similar fashion.

But then, but then …

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Two cartoons on the 30th

January 30, 2021

… in today’s comics feed, both connecting to earlier postings on this blog: a Rhymes With Orange on an ambiguity in the verbing to dust; and a Zippy on Magritte’s painting The Son of Man.

(#1)

(#2)

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Buzz me, baby

March 19, 2020

Today’s Calvin and Hobbes re-run strip, on Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs (CFSBs), which offer “100% of the daily recommended allowance of caffeine”:


(#1) Just in case you had a fleeting moment of wondering about it, there is no caffeine RDA (recommended dietary allowance — recommended by the US National Research Council); the RDAs are for nutrients, and caffeine is not a nutrient

C&H Sugar Bomb strips. Hummingbird metabolism. The getting-high sense of the noun buzz and its verbing. The near-instant buzz of concentrated caffeine. Adalbert Stifter’s 1845 novella Bergkristall.

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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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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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