Archive for the ‘Pragmatics’ Category

Is that a Paschal Peep in your pouch?

April 24, 2017

From Chris Hansen on Facebook, a late entry in this year’s Easter Peepstakes: a model who dreamt he played with yellow Peeps in his Aronik swimwear:

(#1)

About the company, its products, its models, its symbol, and its name

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Chub and chums in the morning

April 17, 2017

Yesterday’s morning name was chub (the name of a fish), which led me to the rest of the bilabial-final family: chum, chump, and chup. (And that led to the velar-final family chug, Chung, chunk, chuck, but I won’t pursue that one here.) As it is, the bilabials will lead us into many surprising places, including the Hardy Boys books, eyewear retainers, Australian dog food, gay slurs, and hunky underwear models.

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hockey puck

April 11, 2017

From the Bloomberg site on 4/6/17, a death notice: “Don Rickles, Comedian Who Turned Insults Into Art, Dies at 90”, by Laurence Arnold, which notes:

“The Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang credits Rickles, circa 1963, with repurposing ‘hockey puck’ to mean ‘a stupid or useless person.’”

There’s some question about when Rickles first used the insult to address someone, but no one seems to have asked

🏒Why hockey puck?🏒

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Plus ça change

April 7, 2017

A Doonesbury cartoon reprinted in Doonesbury Dossier: The Reagan Years (1984):

Reproduced here without political comment. But one brief linguistic note.

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Sparky, Jasper, and Bunky

April 3, 2017

Three morning names a few days ago: used as nicknames, address terms, common nouns. Each with its own story.

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Ruthie copes

March 28, 2017

Two recent One Big Happy strips, featuring Ruthie: the sign strip and the ladder strip

(#1)

(#2)

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Sexting with emoji

March 19, 2017

(Talk of sexual bodyparts and sexual acts, but with symbols rather than pictures of carnal reality.)

From the NYT‘s Fashion & Style section on the 14th, “Gaymoji: A New Language for That Search” by Guy Trebay, with the hot gay news from West Hollywood CA:

You don’t need a degree in semiotics to read meaning into an eggplant balanced on a ruler or peach with an old-fashioned telephone receiver on top. That the former is the universally recognized internet symbol for a large male member and the latter visual shorthand for a booty call is something most any 16-year-old could all too readily explain. [Maybe most any 16-year-old, but not a lot of older people; see below.]

As with most else in our culture, demographics define the future, particularly those describing an age cohort born with a smartphone in hand. That, at least, is the calculation being made by Grindr, the successful gay meeting app with ambitions to overhaul itself as an internet commons for a generation of young lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their pals.

And so, starting this week, Grindr will offer to users a set of trademarked emoji, called Gaymoji — 500 icons that function as visual shorthand for terms and acts and states of being that seem funnier, breezier and less freighted with complication when rendered in cartoon form in place of words.

One of the new emoji,  an image of semen / ejaculăte — jizz, spooge, cum, cream, spunk, etc.:

(#1)

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bombogenesis

March 12, 2017

The weather forecast for the US Northeast is dire, calling for a fierce late winter storm, with plenty of snow. Map from the Northeast Weather site on Facebook (link from Eleanor Houck, who lives in the Reading area in southeastern Pennsylvania, right in the red zone):

In some of the forecasts, Eleanor came across the colorful technical term bombogenesis, suggesting a “weather bomb”. New to her, and to me, but it’s been around for a while.

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Two Ztoons on language use

February 27, 2017

The Zippy and the Zits in my comics feed today:

(#1)

(#2)

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Ruthie on language patrol

February 8, 2017

Two recent One Big Happy strips in which Ruthie grapples with language and its uses:

(#1)

(#2)

Pretty Rico and telephonic conventions. #1 is the more complex strip. The easy part is Ruthie’s misinterpretation of Puerto Rico as pretty Rico — another case where she reinterprets an unfamiliar expression in terms familiar to her. The tricky part is where the caller asks, “Is this a child?”, using demonstrative this on the telephone to refer to the recipient of the call: in the telephonic context (and not generally otherwise), “Is this a child?” conveys ‘Are you a child?’

Ruthie seems not to have picked up this piece of conversational convention, but she has learned a related convention, of identifying oneself on the phone (in the U.S. at least) by the formula This is X (conveying ‘I am X’). Armed with this knowledge, she takes the question Is this X? to be just the interrogative version of This is X, thus asking whether the caller is X: she takes “Is this a child?” to be asking ‘Am I a child?’

So clever. And so wrong.

Breaking news. #2, in contrast, turns on a relatively straightforward ambiguity, in the verb break. Two senses from NOAD2:

[state-change sense] separate or cause to separate into pieces as a result of a blow, shock, or strain

[hot-news sense] (of news or a scandal) suddenly become public [especially in the formula breaking news ‘information that has just now become public’, with breaking as a PRP verb form modifying news]

What Ruthie is announcing is indeed brèaking néws in the hot-news sense, but what she intends to be announcing is bréaking nèws (with the N + N compound breaking news ‘news about breaking’, with state-change break).