Archive for the ‘Pragmatics’ Category

Ruthie falls into the deontic-epistemic pit

December 12, 2017

The One Big Happy cartoon from 11/4, in today’s comics feed:

You can’t sell candy without a license.

Compare: I can’t talk.

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Exercises in high macho style

December 11, 2017

Passing between channels on my tv on the 6th, I caught a moment from the show Mr. Robot (S3 E9) in which Terry Colby, an exec at the Allsafe Corporation, spins out a riff in high-macho figurative language, a piece of crude poetry:

That’s all teddy bears and hand jobs, but what are your financials?  We can’t wake up one day and find ourselves tits up, dicks blowing in the breeze.

The masterstroke in all this is all teddy bears and hand jobs, an invention intended to convey an ironic, dismissive version of the high-toned all sweetness and light or, better, the vernacular all beer and skittles ‘all fun and pleasure’ (skittles, the game of ninepins)

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100 years of independence

December 6, 2017

Though today is one of the dark days of early December alluded to in my recent posting — it’s Mozart’s death day, a sad occasion indeed — it’s also St. Nicholas’s day (gifts!), and Chris Waigl’s birthday (eggcorns, remote sensing of wildfires in the Arctic, Python, knitting, and more, in three languages!), and Independence Day in Finland. As Riitta Välimaa-Blum reminds me, this year’s Independence Day is something spectacular: the centenary of Finland’s declaration of independence from Russia.

(#1) The Finnish flag

So raise a glass of Lakka (Finnish cloudberry liqueur) or Finlandia vodka, neat, to honor that difficult moment in 1917 — the year should call to your mind both World War I (still underway then) and the Russian revolution, and these enormous upheavals were in fact crucial to Finland’s wresting its independence from Russia.

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Maple Donuts, coffee shops, and unapologetic identities

December 1, 2017

It starts with a Zippy strip from July 1st, featuring the Maple Donuts shop on Historic Lincoln Highway in York PA (and, incredibly, it will end with singings of the Negro National Anthem; in between, there will be firearms):


(#1) Maple Donuts, featured a number of times in Zippy strips

It might not be an accident that the strip appeared a few days before America’s great patriotic holiday, Independence Day / the Fourth of July. To see why, we need to look at the actual Maple Donuts store.

That will take us, on the one hand, to the adjoining coffee shop; and, on the other hand, to proud, unapologetic assertions of identities.

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Can you say “cat”? Can you spell “cat”?

November 4, 2017

Two recent One Big Happy strips:

(#1) Can you say … “cat”… um, “sheepshank”?

The Mister Rogers trope Can you say X? ‘Say X’ (in a pedagogical tone); idiomatic go/get (all) X on Y

(#2) Can you spell “cat”?

Spanish ‘yes’ vs. English /si/ C (the letter of the alphabet); linguistic and natural mean; and more.

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Mistered and Ma’amed

October 24, 2017

Today’s Zits:

Jeremy is mistered for the first time, Connie recalls being ma’amed for the first time.

The topic here is vocative (vs. referential) expressions, in particular the subtype of calls (vs. addresses), a domain in which it’s well-known that there are very substantial differences between the subtypes — between the expressions usable in each subtype and the social meanings they convey.

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Rat and Pig in Santa Rosa

October 20, 2017

Yesterday’s Pearls Before Swine:

(#1) 10/19/17

My comment on Facebook: “A double doleful “Awww”. One for panel 3, one for panel 4.” Pig cries out for help in the third panel, Rat sympathetically stands with his friend in the fourth.

Then discussion took us to Lucy and Charlie Brown in Peanuts (and incidentally to Calvin and Hobbes in their eponymous strip), and so to Peanuts artist Charles Schulz, and so to Santa Rosa CA, where Schulz lived and worked from 1969 until his death in 2000, and so to the geographical and cultural regions of northern California (the North Coast / Redwood Empire, the Wine Country, and the North (San Francisco) Bay), in all of which Santa Rosa is by far the biggest town.

Santa Rosa is in the news because of the devastation there in the current spate of wildfires in northern California. The Charles Schulz Museum there was spared, but the family house (with all of its memorabilia) was completely incinerated. The cartoon in #1 is pretty clearly Pearls artist Stephan Pastis’s homage to Schulz in these terrible times.

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douché!

September 29, 2017

An exclamation reported to me back in June by Lee Tucker, a transparent portmanteau of the slang slur douche (as in douchebag) and the exclamation touché! ‘good / clever point!’. But I didn’t know quite how to analyze his (invented) example. Now I have some simpler examples, and I think I’ve got a handle on it.

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Revisiting 7: NL:W

September 17, 2017

Yesterday, a posting on the story of a joke (Not Lady: Wife, NL:W for short) whose canonical form is

A: Who was that lady I saw you with last night?
B: That was no lady; that was my wife.

The vector for the spread of the joke seems to have been the vaudeville team Weber & Fields, who allegedly used it in their stage routines over a century ago. But I found no first-hand reports, so I appealed to the hounds of ADS-L for attestations. This netted a clear occurrence from 1859, but embedded in a long and complex back story (though again with the stage German accent of W&F). And an earlier British antecedent.

Then Larry Horn chimed in with some astute observations on the semantics and pragmatics of NL:W.

All will be reproduced here.

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Terms of endearment

August 27, 2017

Recently in my comics feed, a Calvin and Hobbes re-run with endearments:

pooty pie, bitsy pookums, snoogy woogy — from Wiktionary:

term of endearment: a word, phrase, or nickname used as a term of address expressing affection (synonym: endearment)

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