Archive for the ‘Phonetics’ Category

Annals of casual speech

March 9, 2018

The One Big Happy from February 9th:

in other words > nudder words. Part of this is just ordinary stuff in connected casual speech. Then there’s the [d] for standard [ð] in other.


Morning tetrameter naming

December 27, 2017

The morning began with:

Xenophon Bellerophon

Two Ancient Greek names — the philosopher, historian, and soldier Xenophon and the mythical hero Bellerophon — together making a line of trochaic tetrameter (when the secondary accents on phon are treated as accented in the poetic line).

As a linguist, I had hoped that the phon in these names would be the Greek ‘sound’ stem, so that Xenophon would be equivalent to an English noun xenophone, referring either to someone who speaks a foreign language (parallel to Anglophone and  Francophone) or to a non-native sound, from a foreign language (like the voiceless velar fricative [x] in relatively German-faithful pronunciations of the noun Bach in English).

But apparently not (though the etymologies of the names seem to be uncertain). My hopes are dashed.


twicker tweet

October 31, 2017

Today’s (Halloween) Zits, with a big “Aww” response from Jeremy:

Unlike trickle treat (reported on here in a 11/27/14 posting), which has a syllabic r (in casual-speech trick or) misheard as a syllabic l (so that trick or is misidentified as trickle), twicker tweet is entirely a matter of production (rather than perception), with [w] for English approximant r [ɹ̠] in child phonology.


The cop and the gunner’s mate

August 28, 2017

Another underwear ad, with a somewhat raunchy (but indirect) caption, with references to mansex, so not to everyone’s taste. This will lead us to Swiss comedians on ice skates, the Backstreet Boys, and much more.


Flic and Flak
Share a moment of
Post-wallow bliss, after
Connecting in the
Backroom of a
Backstreet bar,
While seeking dirty
Backdoor action

Flic is the blond one, and he’s French (Fr. slang flic ‘cop’). Flak is a gunner’s mate in the U.S. Navy (flak ‘antiaircraft fire’). They both know how to handle guns. They become BBFs, best buddies forever, but also backdoor buddies forever — who first connected tricking in a backroom bar (a gay backroom bar, one with a secluded space for sex in situ). They’re backboys.


Corey Saucier

April 2, 2017

… the male model, in body-display, rather than fashion-display, mode — so only a little about language. On the other hand, this posting is, in word and image, at least technically SFW (though homo-steamy).

It begins with a Facebook comment from Ken Rudolph about image #1 in my “Hitchhiking” posting of yesterday:


Ken asked:

Who is #1? And where did that still come from…it looks more like a regular movie than a porn.

Not any kind of movie, but a posed still done by a professional photographer (as are, I think, #2-7 in my hitchhiking posting, and the three photos in the accompanying AZBlogX posting). Meanwhile, a Google Images search led me to Saucier.


The audible asterisk

December 1, 2016

Today’s Zits has Jeremy breaking out in asterisks, and they’re neither taboo avoidance characters nor stigmata of ungrammaticality:

What Jeremy’s mother perceives as a spoken asterisk is some complex of vocal quality, pitch. intensity, and timing that marks an expression as produced with some reservation, rather than whole-heartedly. Notably, in the last panel, Jeremy’s production of No corresponds to a Jeremy-mental Yes.

True Confessions Ripped from the Tabloids

November 6, 2016

(Well yes, men’s bodies, and lots of gay innuendo, but nothing to frighten the horses.)

Headline in The Gaily Male:

“How Giacomo ‘Giacco’ Giaccone’s
SuperSnapJock made me into a sniveling bitch”


Jimmy ruled the
Gym with a thumb of
Steel – one
Snap of his
Strap made the
Strongest man


Bizarro groaner

January 7, 2016

Today’s Bizarro, with a major pun:

(If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 3 in this strip — see this Page.)

Groan: analogyan allergy. Fairly distant pun for rhotic (r-ful) speakers like me, potentially perfect pun for non-rhotic (r-less) speakers in connected speech (where the indefinite article an is part of a phonological word with allergy, so that the [n] moves from a coda to an onset; then things depend on the vowels in the –ogy part of analogy and the –ergy part of allergy).

The sounds don’t quite match

December 26, 2015

Two Christmas cartoons involving puns — one very close, one pretty distant. A Scott Metzger cartoon (which came to me through the Tysonism page on Facebook) and the Mother Goose and Grimm of 12/20/11 (which came to me though the King Features site):




peanut(s), penis, and Cracker Jack

October 30, 2015

In a posting three days ago on matters having to do with a Pop-Tart commercial on tv, I reported that at first I heard the peanut in peanut butter as penis. Now a Facebook poster adds his own experience, which had to do with the Cracker Jack slogan (for many years), “Candy coated popcorn, peanuts and a prize”, which as a kid he heard as hawking “penis and a prize”; he took that as an early indicator that he was gay. And now I discover that there’s a rich vein of joking (much of it sophomoric) exploiting the phonetic similarity of peanuts and penis (penis brittle and, yes, penis butter), plus considerable anxiety over the word peanuts from speakers of languages that disfavor consonant clusters (like /ts/).

Two topics here: the phonetic similarity of peanut(s) and penis; and some reflections on Cracker Jack, both the snack and its name.