Archive for the ‘Parsing’ Category

Attaching an 8-page essay at Wheaton College

September 30, 2018

Reported back on the 19th, a stunner of a 2017 headline about Wheaton College (IL) events dating back to 2016. First, the story from a source other than the one that produced the remarkable headline: from the Daily Mail (UK) by Jennifer Smith on 2/14/18: “Christian college ‘punished’ football players who ‘kidnapped, beat and sexually assaulted’ freshman in brutal hazing ritual by asking them to write an eight-page essay and complete community service”:

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Further adventures with Low Attachment

September 1, 2018

Bonnie Taylor-Blake to ADS-L on 8/10 under the heading “Another zoological crash blossom”:

The headline for a blog post hosted by the Smithsonian:

“Scientists track a mysterious songbird using tiny backpack locators

This reminded me of a favorite from a few years ago, “Public urged to keep track of squirrels with mobiles.” (See Ben Zimmer’s column about this and other crash blossoms [here].)

Two ambiguous headlines that might be understood in an unintended way because of how modifying phrases (underlined above) are attached to preceding material:

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A Brokavian crash blossom

May 2, 2018

… committed by The Onion recently (hat tip to Jerry Zee):

(#1)

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scratch and sniff card

March 10, 2018

The One Big Happy from February 10th:

The sign says (but with reduced and):

SCRATCH AND SNIFF CARDS

Is that to be parsed as conjoined imperatives — you are to scratch and to sniff cards — or as an NP describing some cards — these are cards you can scratch and sniff, cards for scratching and sniffing?

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Runner ducks, runner beans, rubber ducks

September 9, 2017

Back on the 6th, in “Birthday notes”:

From Benita Bendon Campbell (and Ed Campbell) a Jacquie Lawson animated card of Indian runner ducks in the rain, ending with a duck and a rainbow. In medias res: [image #1]
To come, in a separate posting, on Indian runner ducks and Indian (or scarlet) runner beans, which are not at all the same thing.

And then to add to those, India(n) rubber ducks, which aren’t ducks, though they are duck-simulacra (runner ducks are ducks, and runner beans are beans — that is, bean plants).

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Adventures in compounding

August 2, 2017

xkcd strip #1681 Laser Products:

Two main axes of variation:

the parsing of the 3-part compound X Y Z as
[ X Y ] [ Z ] vs. [ X ] [ Y Z ]

and various possibilities for the semantic relation between Y and X in a 2-part compound X Y

Note: eye removal ‘removal of an eyeball’ is known technically as enucleation.

Memorial Saturday 4

May 27, 2017

Four recent cartoons in my feed that have to do with language: Mother Goose and Grimm (attachment ambiguity), Zits (greetings), Bizarro (labeling a bat(h)room), xkcd (knowledge about the referents of names).

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Gay Porn Portal

December 6, 2015

(Mostly about gay porn resources, with some plain language but no actually X-rated images (though the images flirt with the rating). And there are several linguistic points.)

Yesterday I stumbled across a Gay Porn Site (as it labels itself) called “cocksuckers guide” (how crude is that?). The name cocksucker here is not used more or less literally, as ‘fellator’ (esp. a male fellator), and it certainly is not used as in this NOAD2 entry for the word:

vulgar slang, chiefly N. Amer.  a contemptible person (used as a generalized term of abuse)

Instead, it’s used in a sense that’s historically intermediate between those two senses, as ‘gay man, queer’: though what gay men actually share is a sexual attraction to other men, fellating other men is the characteristic sexual act of a gay man, so it was natural to extend cocksucker to refer to gay men in general; but then distaste for gay men and their sexual activities contaminated the term cocksucker, and it became a slur, a term of abuse, at first used of gay men and then generalized, ultimately even to inanimate objects: (said of a recalcitrant corkscrew) This cocksucker [or: this cocksucking corkscrew] doesn’t work!

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Sunday penis notes: #3 phallic food

October 25, 2015

(Lots of penis talk, but some linguistic points along the way.)

More things that popped up when I went looking for something having to do with penises — and was offered various sites on phallic food, a long-standing topic on this blog. Three senses of phallic food here: penises as food; foodstuffs that resemble penises (either naturally, or by accident); foodstuffs that are fashioned to look like penises. I’ve posted often about the last two types, but the first is new on this blog.

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Briefly: HA in the commercials

August 27, 2015

From a long-running ad campaign:

Eliminate odors you’ve gone noseblind to for over 30 days with Febreze.

The intended parsing is High Attachment (HA) — eliminate for 30 days (with Febreze) odors you’ve gone noseblind to — though Low Attachment (LA) — odors you’ve gone noseblind to for 30 days, eliminate them with Febreze — is the default parsing. In a sense, LA is always available and often tempting, but in this case plausibility wins out over the default: why would you seek a remedy only for odors you’ve been noseblind to for over 30 days?

(On noseblindness, see this posting.)