Archive for the ‘Phonetics’ Category

The khan con

August 10, 2021

The One Big Happy strip from 7/15, in which the Library Lady reads from the children’s book The Magic Cowlick, about Aziza, whose father was a powerful khan, and asks about the infrequent lexical item khan, which Ruthie takes to be the (to her) more familiar slang noun con (< confidence man), homophonous with khan for most Americans:


(#1) But then we have some vowel issues; compare the Library Lady’s pronunciation of khan in the first panel with her pronunciation of con in the last panel

(more…)

Twirly and girly

August 3, 2021

The One Big Happy from 6/5, in which Ruthie struggles, eggcornishly, to rationalize an unfamiliar name with familiar parts:

Mary, Susan, whatever.

Meanwhile, I now have “Honey Bun” from South Pacific in my head:

(more…)

Tod und Verklärung

April 18, 2020

Yesterday’s Wayno/Piraro Bizarro takes a literary and anatomical turn:


(#1) literary: Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” / anatomical: the uvula, a tissue structure in the oral cavity (relevant here because of its involvement in snoring)

To make the allusions even denser, on his Facebook page, Wayno supplied the title “Mystery and Respiration” for #1, echoing the Paschal [that is, Easter] Mystery and Resurrection [of Jesus Christ], and alluding to the apparent resurrection of the body buried beneath the floorboards. And then this Death and Resurrection theme led me to Richard Strauss’s tone poem Tod und Verklärung, a secular (but still transcendent) story of death and transfiguration. Meanwhile, “Mystery and Respiration” also, of course, echoes the snoring theme.

(more…)

Deux clouseauismes

August 11, 2019

Morning names from early this past week: fondly remembered quotations from Peter Sellars’s Inspector Clouseau character in The Pink Panther (1963) and the series of movies following it. Both involve a bold effort by Clouseau to fix or remedy some situation, resulting of course in devastation — and clueless insouciance on the inspector’s part.

Besides the absurd situations, there’s Sellars’s deft timing and his control of the physical comedy, and, delicious cherry on top: his way-eccentric Clouseau-franglais syntax and phonetics (with pronunciation governed largely by a rigid constraint against back vowels, especially rounded back vowels, though even [ʌ] is affected, as in monkey > minkey). The transcripts below are in standard English orthography, so you should listen to the film clips.

(more…)

Nudie tales

July 8, 2019

The One Big Happy from 6/11 (in my comics feed today), in which Ruthie mishears a stock expression from tv news reporting:


Said: new details. Heard: nudie tales.

The stock expression is new details (sometimes more details, occasionally just details), frequently at 11 (because 11 p.m. is the conventional time for the late evening news in the US), but other times are of course possible (e.g. at 6), as are continuations like soon, later, and coming.

(more…)

Two cents, common sense, incense, and peppermints

March 27, 2019

The 2/26 One Big Happy, riffing on /sɛns/, in idioms with sense (common sense, horse sense, nonsense), in incense, and in cents (also in an idiom, two cents):

(#1)

Which, of course, leads us inevitably to the psychedelic days of 1967, with their whiff of incense and peppermints (plus some pot).

(more…)

Revisiting 27: Lilo, Stitch, Bouba, and Kiki

March 25, 2019

Mike Pope on Facebook, following up on my posting of the 25th “Lilo & Stitch”, with a question about the naming of the characters in the movie:


(#1) Stitch and Lilo

MP: Do you think the animators consciously followed a kiki/bouba paradigm?

AZ:  Almost surely not consciously; they just chose names that “sounded right” to them.

In general, writers’ name choices for fictitious characters are inscrutable in detail; even if the writers have an explicit account of where the names came from, unconscious preferences for certain kinds of names can usually be seen to be at play.

One of these preferences is the bouba/kiki effect, which has to do with the visual appearance of the referents (see the images above). Also involved are effects having to do with the gender of the referents (Stitch is male, Lilo female). No doubt there are more.

(more…)

Low back issues

March 20, 2019

… in a One Big Happy cartoon (in auditorium) and in the title of a 1998 movie (the nickname Paulie): in American English, unrounded [ɑ] for rounded [ɔ], collapsing the distinction between the phonemes /a/ in cot and /ɔ/ in caught.


(#1) Discomfort in the low back region: Polly on the left, Paulie on the right

(more…)

Hard Tundra

March 4, 2019

Adventures in cross-dialect understanding in the One Big Happy strips of 2/1 and 2/2, both featuring Ruthie and Joe’s playmate James:

(#1)

(#2)

(more…)

The wherewolf

March 3, 2019

Passed on by Joelle Stepian Bailard, this Cyanide and Happiness strip by Rob DenBleyker from 9/30/10:

A tour of the interrogative words of English.

(more…)