Archive for the ‘Pragmatics’ Category

Book flash: New Work on Speech Acts

August 16, 2018

What looks to be an excellent report on work in semantics/pragmatics on speech acts, from OUP:

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Two occasions, four cartoons

August 6, 2018

(There will be talk of men’s bodies, among a number of other things, so you might want to exercise some caution.)

Yesterday was National Underwear Day (utilitarian garments elevated to objects of play, desire, and fashion display), today is Hiroshima Day (remembering the horror of an event of mass destruction, death, and suffering). An uncomfortable, even absurd, juxtaposition, but there is a link in the symbolism of the two occasions. In my comics feed for these occasions: four language-related cartoons on familiar language-related themes, none of them having anything to do with either underwear or nuclear holocaust, probably for good reason.

Cartoons first, then the underwear and atomic bombs.
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That bastard mongrel half-breed, the tromboon

July 25, 2018

To yesterday’s posting “Hybrid referent, portmanteau name” (mostly about the flumpet, with a bit on the fluba), Robert Coren added a comment about Peter Schickele / P.D.Q. Bach and his invention, the tromboon:

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The tromboon is a musical instrument made up of the reed and bocal of a bassoon, attached to the body of a trombone in place of the trombone’s mouthpiece. It combines the sound of double reeds and the slide for a distinctive and unusual instrument. The name of the instrument is a portmanteau of “trombone” and “bassoon”. The sound quality of the instrument is best described as comical and loud.

The tromboon was developed by Peter Schickele, a skilled bassoonist himself, and featured in some of his live concert and recorded performances. Schickele called it “a hybrid – that’s the nicer word – constructed from the parts of a bassoon and a trombone; it has all the disadvantages of both”. This instrument is called for in the scores of P. D. Q. Bach’s oratorio The Seasonings, as well as the Serenude (for devious instruments) and Shepherd on the Rocks, With a Twist. (Wikipedia link)

Here I’m focusing on that’s the nicer word: just what did Schickele think (in 2008) was a less nice, more offensive, way to refer to a hybrid (more specifically, to someone of mixed race, which is probably where the insult vocabulary for hybrids is going to come from)? Specifically, what does an old white guy addressing a mostly white audience think might be a more offensive way to refer to hybrids? (A young black guy would probably insult a half-black half-white guy by calling him white.)

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Rubber and glue

July 23, 2018

The June 26th One Big Happy, with an updated version of a bit of childlore:

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It starts out traditionally, with a retort to insult beginning “I’m rubber and you’re glue…”, but then it takes a modern-tech social-media turn (while preserving the glue … you rhyme).

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Following instructions

July 7, 2018

The instruction goes COVER ME or COVER YOURSELF. What are you supposed to do? Well, the verb cover, um, covers a lot of possibilities, so there’s plenty of room for play, amply illustrated in cartoons and other forms of visual/verbal play. Especially common are plays on COVER ME intended as having what I’ll call “gunfire cover” but understood as having some other sense, in particular what I’ll call “(general) placement cover“; and plays on COVER YOURSELF intended as having what I’ll call “corporal-modesty cover” (cover your nakedness) but understood as having (general) placement cover.

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Foswelch in Formstone

July 3, 2018

Today’s Zippy has Mr. the Toad recruiting a Pinhead named Foswelch — Toad uses the name as an address term in every panel of the strip except the last — as a Formstone siding salesman in Baltimore:

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There’s the name Foswelch, another in a series of F-initial family names that Bill Griffith seems to be fond of. And the combination of siding and Baltimore — a natural for Formstone, but also evoking the movie Tin Men.

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World UFO Day

July 3, 2018

… celebrated yesterday. From Wikipedia on UFOs:

Fanciful illustration of alien spacecraft (Chris Clor / Getty Images / Blend Images): saucer shape, ring of lights on the rim of the saucer, searchlight projecting from the bottom of the craft as it hovers

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Deterrence, lessons, and examples: pour encourager les autres

June 26, 2018

A typical report on recent approaches to those seeking entrance to the U.S. at the Mexican border, “Here Are the Facts About [REDACTED]’s Family Separation Policy” by Maya Thodan in Time magazine on the 20th:

Administration officials have often characterized these policies [of interviews and hearings] as “loopholes” that are exploited by those seeking to enter the U.S. Some administration officials have suggested that the “zero tolerance” policy could serve as a deterrent for other migrants who are seeking to come to the U.S.

The idea is that applicants should all be rejected, and in a way so savage that others would be deterred from applying. The aim of the policy is, in Voltaire’s pointed phrasing, pour encourager les autres.

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In case of cartoons, see therapist

June 11, 2018

It started with this John Deering cartoon from 11/23/12 (passed on by a series of Facebook posters):

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In the tradition of the signage

IN CASE OF FIRE, BREAK GLASS

and introducing the cartoonist Deering, who’s fond of the Psychiatrist cartoon meme.

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Bromuniqués

June 4, 2018

About the N bro, used first as an address term and then as a referential N with several senses, and available as an element in N + N compounds: as the first element in Bro Code and bro subculture, as the second element in code bro (roughly) ‘guy into coding’ and (hat tip to Tyler Schnoebelen) the academic-cool character named Philosophy Bro. Then, thanks to Ben Barrett on ADS-L (on May 23rd), on to crypto bro / cryptobro, which looks like it might be a portmanteau of cryptocurrency (or cryptocoin(age)) and bro, but is probably better analyzed as a straightforward compound of the clipping crypto and the N bro.

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