Archive for the ‘Speech acts’ Category

Contamination by association

August 13, 2019

(Regularly skirting or confronting sexual matters, so perhaps not to everyone’s taste.)

Yesterday’s Wayno/Piraro Bizarro takes us back to the Garden of Eden:


(#1) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 4 in this strip — see this Page.)

The bit of formulaic language for this situation is a catchphrase, a slogan with near-proverbial status (YDK, for short):

YOU DON’T KNOW WHERE IT’S BEEN

The leaves are conventionally associated with modesty, through their having been used to cover the nakedness of Adam and Eve in the Garden — a use that then associates the leaves with the genitals, from which the psychological contamination spreads to the entire plant, including the fruits. You don’t know where that fig has been.

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Gloating over them apples

August 6, 2019

In an advertising poster, for actual apples:

(#1)

and on a tongue-in-cheek sticker, reproducing a gloat:

(#2)

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Locatives, inalienability, and determiner choices

July 31, 2019

All this, and more, in two recent One Big Happy cartoons, from 7/2 (I broke a finger — the determiner cartoon) and 7/4 (Where was the Declaration of Independence signed? — the locative cartoon). Both featuring Ruthie’s brother Joe.  I’ll start with the locatives.

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Ostentatiously playful allusions

May 18, 2019

(OPAs, for short.) The contrast is to inconspicuously playful allusions, what I’ve called Easter egg quotations on this blog. With three OPAs from the 4/20/19 Economist, illustrating three levels of closeness between the content of the OPA and the topic of the article: no substantive relationship between the two (the Nock, Nock case), tangential relationship (the Sunset brouhaha case), and tight relationship (the defecate in the woods case).

The three cases also illustrate three degrees of paronomasia: the Nock, Nock case involves a (phonologically) perfect pun; the Sunset brouhaha case an imperfect pun; and the defecate in the woods case no pun at all, but whole-word substitutions.

I’ll start in the middle, with Sunset brouhaha. But first, some background. Which will incorporate flaming saganaki; be prepared.

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Annals of indirection

January 1, 2019

Chip Dunham’s Overboard strip from December 28th:


(#1) Captain Crow and his dog Louie

An exercise in both syntax/semantics and semantics/pragmatics: on syntactic constructions and their semantics, and on the indirect conveying of meaning in context.

Above, what will become example (c) in the syntactic discussion:

(c) I don’t think I’ve told you today what a wonderful dog you are

which will lead to a related example, Sir Van Morrison’s song line in (d):

(d) Have I told you lately that I love you?

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What room am I in?

October 20, 2018

This photoon passed on to me by Karen Chung on Facebook (I have no idea of its ultimate source):

(#1)

Context, context, context.

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Asking questions and giving commands

August 21, 2018

The text for the day is a dialogue posted on Facebook on the 19th by John Beavers (a guitarist who moonlights as a linguistics professor at the University of Texas, Austin), between John’s son Ezra and John’s wife / Ezra’s mother Janice Ta:


Ezra on his 3rd birthday (July 28th)

Ezra: Mommy, do “boy” and “toy” rhyme?

Janice: Yes, they do! You’re very good at rhyming. Do “boy” and “man” rhyme?

Ezra: No. You’re not very good at rhyming.

Ah, a significant ambiguity in the use of interrogative sentences: between information-seeking interrogatives (infoseek questions, I’ll call them), like Ezra’s do “boy” and “toy” rhyme?; and examination interrogatives (test questions, I’ll call them; they’re also known as quiz questions), like Janice’s do “boy” and “man” rhyme?

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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:

(#1)

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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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scratch and sniff card

March 10, 2018

The One Big Happy from February 10th:

The sign says (but with reduced and):

SCRATCH AND SNIFF CARDS

Is that to be parsed as conjoined imperatives — you are to scratch and to sniff cards — or as an NP describing some cards — these are cards you can scratch and sniff, cards for scratching and sniffing?

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